[Burning Issue] Forest fires problem in India

Why in News?

In recent times there are various instances of the forest fire in India, which has huge consequences.

Regions where forest fires occur in India

  1. The bulk of forest fires in India happens in the tropical dry forests.
  2. About 70% of forests in India composed of scrub, grassland, dry and moist deciduous forests.
  3. Every year in March, forest fires happen in the dry deciduous forests in India, especially in A.P, M.P, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and Assam

Causes of forest fires

Natural causes

  1. Temperature, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere, duration of dry spells, lightning, spontaneous combustion and volcanic eruption.
  2. The friction of tree branches swaying due to high-velocity wind or rolling stones that causes sparks and ignites fires in leaf litter.

Man-made Causes

  1. Arson or open flame, discarded cigarettes, power-line sparks and sparks from equipment.
  2. Ignition of wildfires through contact with hot rifle-bullet fragments.
  3. It can also be ignited in shifting cultivation areas such as north-eastern regions and eastern coastal regions.
  4. It has been estimated that 90% of forest fires in India are man-made, when people enter forests to graze cattle, collect fuelwood, timber and other minor forest produce.

How is policy responsible?

  1. The main cause of the forest fire crisis is due to the blanket implementation of no-fire forest policy.
  2. This approach of fire protection is not suitable to the ecology of India’s tropical dry forests.
  3. For example, the fires in Bandipur Reserve were difficult to control because of sufficient fuel supplied by the invasive species Lantana Camara.
  4. The no-fire policy was responsible for the spread of Lantana in the first place.
  5. Regular, low-intensity forest fires could have stopped the spread of Lantana in the past.
  6. But for now, the future forest fires will be difficult to control until Lantana is physically reduced first.


  1. Forest fires cause serious health hazards by causing smoke and noxious gases by affecting the local climatic setup.
  2. They also result in increased CO2 levels and contribute to climate change.
  3. Loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat affects the ecological setup that may cause problems with other natural resources like drying up of water resources, loss of soil fertility etc.
  4. Frequent forest fires in forested areas decrease the natural regeneration capacity of the environment.

Way forward

  1. Awareness should be created among the villagers residing near the forests with respect to the long-term ill effects of forest fires.
  2. Measures to prevent forest fires have to be taken before summer season when fires are prevalent.
  3. Local people should be given skills to use online portals or mobile apps in order to monitor the forests for fires and inform forest authorities regarding the same.
  4. The government should make available the alternatives for greener pastures.
  5. Village people should have access to employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities through better connectivity and infrastructure.
  6. Officers at ground level shall work together with local people to bring a holistic solution

Practice question

  1. There are growing instances of frequent fires in the forest regions of India. What do you think are the causes and what measures would you suggest to resolve it?

By Explains

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