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Important Concepts - Forest Fires in the Himalayas

Important Concepts - Forest Fires in the Himalayas

Important Concepts - Forest Fires in the Himalayas
Important Concepts - Forest Fires in the Himalayas

Reason for Discussion:

This year, many incidents of forest fire have been reported in the Himalayan region in the winter season, especially in Himachal and Uttarakhand. According to the Forest Survey of India, 2,050 incidents of forest fire occurred between October 16, 2023 and January 16, 2024, which is less than during the same period last year. This is significantly higher than the 296 incidents of forest fire.

Key Facts:

Forest Fire

◾ A terrible fire that starts and spreads unexpectedly in flammable environments like dry forests or bushes is called forest fire. Such fires opten burn uncontrollably over a large area and for a long time. Forest fires are usually caused by natural factors such as prolonged heat, try weather or lightning, or human negligence

◾ The main reason for forest fires is climate change. Forest fire spreads rapidly due to dry wood or other flammable material present in the forest. Many times, forest fires are caused by lightening or extremely dry wood or dry leaves of trees and plants.

◾ In India, forest fire generally occur during the months of March and April. During these months the land is covered with dry wood, grass, weeds and dry leaves. In such a situation, even a small spark becomes the cause of forest fire. In some instances, when the temperature is high, the friction caused by the branches of dry trees rubbing against each other also causes forest fire.

◾ Generally forest fire is classified in 3 ways :

(1) Crown fire

(2) Surface forest fire

(3) Underground forest fire

◾ In crown fire, trees burn up to their entire length. This is the most intense and dangerous wildfire.

◾ Surface forest fire can mainly occur in the form of surface fire, in which the litter laying on the ground (leaves and twigs and dry grass etc.) catches fire.

◾ Underground forest fire is mainly a low intensity forest fire in which the organic matter and garbage on the surface and below it catch fire. In most dense forests, a cover of organic matter is found on the surface of the soil. Such forest fires usually occurred completely underground and can occur up to a few metres below the surface. This fire spreads very slowly and in most cases this type of fire becomes very difficult to detect and control they can continue for months, destroying the vegetation cover of the soil.


Causes of Forest Fire in Himalayan Region:

◾ Generally there are two primary causes of forest fire : man-made and natural.

Man-made Causes: 

studies have found that about 90% of forest fires are man-made. Man-made carelessness, such as leaving a campfire unextinguished or carelessly throwing away a cigarette after smoking, etc. The main causes of forest fire are accidents, deliberate arson, wrong burning of garbage and fireworks etc. are also among the other major causes of forest fire.

Natural Causes:

1. Lightning: Lightening is one of the main reason behind forest fires.

2. Volcanic Eruption: Usually during a volcanic eruption, the hot magma present in the upper layer of the earth comes out in the form of lava. Hot lover comes out and causes forest fire.

3. Temperature: High atmospheric temperature and dryness create favorable conditions for forest fires. Due to climate change, the air temperature at the earth's surface is gradually increasing, resulting in increased release of carbon dioxide and spread of forest fires. The percentage has increased.

4. Flammable tree species: The presence of fire-prone and flammable tree species like pine increases the risk of forest fire. About 15% of the forest area of Himachal is covered with pine.

5. Danger due to prolonged drought: prolonged drought without rain or snowfall for several month increases the risk of forest fire in the area.

Effects of forest fire on the Environment:

◾ Threat of extinction of biodiversity, plants and animals.

◾ Increase in global temperature.

◾ Increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

◾ Loss of livelihood of tribals and villagers.

◾ Soil erosion has adverse effects on soil and production productivity.

◾ Changes in microclimate (climate of a particular small place)

◾ Loss of forest resources.

◾ Damage of the ozone layer.

◾ Degradation of water catchment areas.

Forest Fire Prevention and Management in India:

◾ Human-caused fires can be prevented through education and increasing environmental awareness. These awareness programs should include silvicultural activities, engineering work, people's participation and education and enforcement 

◾ More emphasis should be given to people's participation through joint forest fire management for forest fire prevention

◾ To prevent forest fire, co-ordinated network should be developed, show that information about forest fire can be received immediately.

◾ Due importance should be given to remote sensing technology in fire detection.

◾ For successful fire management and administration, a National FIRE Danger Rating System (NFDRS) and fire forecasting system is to be developed in the country.

◾ Phone receiving information about forest fire incident, rescue work and subsequent follow-up action should be taken quickly.

◾ Availability of fire fighting resources should be ensured in areas adjacent to forests.


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