Forest Fires

Uttarakhand Forest Fires


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Forest Fires as per FSI report

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

Last week, three instances of forest fire were reported from the major forest belts in Uttarakhand.

  • The severity of the situation has prompted the deployment of Indian Air Force personnel and Mi-17 choppers, engaged in the critical operation of dousing the flames using the Bambi Bucket Method.

Causes of Wildfire:

  • Firstly, the general major causes of forest fires in Uttarakhand are continued dry weather and lack of moisture in the forests.
  • Secondly, according to the Forest Research Institute (FRI, 2019), 95% of forest fires are attributed to human activities.
  • The common human-induced causes includeGrazers setting fire to dry grass, Slash-and-burn agriculture, Unattended campfires, and Intentional arson.

Uttarakhand’s Forest Vulnerability:

  • As per the latest report from the Forest Survey of India (FSI), the Recorded Forest Area (RFA) in the State is 38,000 sq km of which 26,547 sq km is Reserved Forest, 9,885 sq km is Protected Forest, and 1,568 sq km is Unclassed Forests.
  • Highly flammable Chir Pine trees, covering extensive areas, increase the fire risk.
  • This risk is compounded by prolonged dry spells and excess biomass accumulation.
  • Additionally, the proximity of villages facilitates anthropogenic activities such as forest clearance and grazing.

Forest Fires in India: Recent Statistics

  • Odisha recorded 4,237 forest fires as compared to 1,499 between April 20 and 27 in 2023. Similarly, Chhattisgarh recorded 757 fires last year as compared to 2,116 this year, Jharkhand 633 as against 1,926 and Andhra Pradesh 527 as compared to 1,126 in 2023.
  • However, Uttarakhand has recorded the highest number of large forest fires in the country in the last seven days since April 28, according to the Forest Survey of India (FSI) data.


Mitigation Strategies

  1. Localized Initiatives: 
  • Effective measures to mitigate forest fire risks include controlled burning, biomass removal, prescribed burns, and enhanced surveillance using drones.
  • Community engagement and proactive involvement, as demonstrated in Kerala, provide valuable insights for forest fire management.
  1. Government Initiatives:
  • The government has introduced measures such as a satellite-based fire alert system by the Forest Survey of India, aiding in early detection and response efforts.
  • Forest staff utilize various techniques, including counter-fires and fire beaters, to contain and manage forest fires effectively.

Wildfires Mitigating Strategies:

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) outlines four strategies to prevent and manage forest fires:
  1. Erecting watch towers for early detection,
  2. Deploying fire watchers,
  3. Engaging local communities, and
  4. Establishing and maintaining fire lines.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) website distinguishes between two types of fire lines:

  1. Kachha fire lines involve clearing undergrowth and shrubs while preserving trees to decrease the amount of available fuel.
  2. Pucca fire lines are clear-cut areas that create a barrier between forest compartments or blocks to contain potential fire spread.



[2020] Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change.

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