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Uttarakhand forest fires

Why is it in the news?

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to urgently hear petitions regarding the Uttarakhand forest fires on May 8.

More about the news

  • The petitions emphasize that 90% of the forest fires in Uttarakhand are “man-made.”
  • Reports indicate over 900 fire incidents in the past six months, damaging at least 1100 hectares of forest land.
  • 351 cases related to “man-made” forest fires were registered, implicating 59 named individuals and 290 unidentified suspects.

Forest fires

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Forest fires, also known as wildfires, are unplanned, uncontrolled, and unpredictable fires that occur in areas with combustible vegetation.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Natural causes include lightning, high atmospheric temperatures, and low humidity.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Man-made causes include agricultural practices like Jhum, sources of fire such as cigarettes or bidis, unattended campfires, burning of waste, and intentional arson.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 The presence of fuel (dry trees, shrubs, grasses, and litter), oxygen, and a heat source (often referred to as the fire triangle) is necessary for a fire to exist.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Dry weather, drought, and dry vegetation provide easy kindling for fires, while strong winds facilitate their spread.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Forest fires can be categorized based on their behaviour, including ground fires, surface fires, and crown fires.


Uttarakhand’s susceptibility to forest fires

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Indian forests are highly vulnerable to fires, with over 54% of the forest cover exposed to occasional fire.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Uttarakhand, located in the North-Western Himalayas, is particularly prone to fires due to the prevalence of pine trees, accumulation of flammable litter, and high fire intensity in low altitude regions near villages.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Factors such as climate change, changes in land-use patterns, and local community practices contribute to the increased incidence of forest fires in the region.


Methods to tackle forest fires

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Spreading awareness about fire prevention and safety measures.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Controlled or prescribed burning to remove biomass and promote healthy forest growth.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Implementing preventive measures such as creating fire-lines or fire-belts, engaging temporary fire watchers, desilting water sources, and having fire safety equipment on hand.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Increasing surveillance of forests using drones.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Government initiatives such as satellite-based fire alert systems and training forest staff in fire management techniques.


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