- April 5, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject : Environment
Context : Recently, Uttarakhand has witnessed over 1,000 incidents of forest fire over the last six months, including 45 in the last 24 hours alone.
- Since the start of 2021, there has been a series of forest fires in Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland-Manipur border, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, including in wildlife sanctuaries.
- April-May is the season when forest fires take place in various parts of the country.
- But forest fires have been more frequent than usual in Uttarakhand and have also taken place during winter; dry soil caused by a weak monsoon is being seen as one of the causes.
- Forest fires can be caused by a number of natural causes, but officials say many major fires in India are triggered mainly by human activities.
Causes of Forest Fires
- It can be caused by a number of natural causes, but officials say many major fires in India are triggered mainly by human activities.
- The emerging studies link climate change to rising instances of fires globally, especially the massive fires of the Amazon forests in Brazil and in Australia in the last two years.
- The fires of longer duration, increasing intensity, higher frequency and highly inflammable nature are all being linked to climate change.
- In India, forest fires are most commonly reported during March and April, when the ground has large quantities of dry wood, logs, dead leaves, stumps, dry grass and weeds.
- Under natural circumstances, extreme heat and dryness, friction created by rubbing of branches with each other also have been known to initiate fire.
How prone to fire are India’s forests?
- As of 2019, about 21.67% (7,12,249sq km) of the country’s geographical area is identified as forest, according to the India State of Forest Report 2019 (ISFR) released by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehradun. Tree cover makes up another 2.89% (95, 027 sq km).
- Based on previous fire incidents and recorded events, forests of the Northeast and central India regions are the most vulnerable areas to forest fires, the FSI has said. Forests in Assam, Mizoram and Tripura have been identified as ‘extremely prone’ to forest fire.
- Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are the two states that witness the most frequent forest fires annually.
Efforts to protect forests from fire
- In 2004, the FSI developed the Forest Fire Alert System to monitor forest fires in real time.
- In its advanced version launched in January 2019, the system now uses satellite information gathered from NASA and ISRO.
- The real-time fire information from identified fire hotspots is gathered using MODIS sensors (1km by 1km grid) and electronically transmitted to FSI.