Devastating forest fires: wider public awareness and prompt measures pivotal

By: Abdhesh Kumar Gangwar
Disaster Events

New Delhi, May 10 (G’nY News Service): Forest fires are emerging as the most recurring disaster in India especially in the hilly states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh. Wider public awareness, prompt measures necessary to prevent such accidents in future.
Since the first fire incident in early February 2016, the forest fire in Uttarakhand has spread to 13 districts and 1500 villages of the state destroying nearly 3,000 acres of forest land. Forest stretches in districts of Rudraprayag, Pauri, Chamoli, Almora, Nainital and Dehradun are the worst affected (The Times of India). Besides forests, the fire has engulfed villages; destroying houses, schools, livestock. The smoke has caused breathing difficulties and respiratory problems among local residents.

Forests have plenty of fire-prone biomass, resins and other inflammable compounds. So, rise in temperature, lack of moisture in the air, high speed winds, long dry spells and the accumulation of dry biomass, undowsed bidi, cigarette and campfires can lead to forest fires. Though rarely, tree trunks shaken by winds and colliding against each other in dry summer under high atmospheric temperature and falling rocks can cause forest fire.

Centre for Environment Education (CEE) Himalaya and Forest Department of Uttarakhand alerted villagers, and asked people to make fire lines to stop further spread of fire in Uttarakhand. People who were burning agricultural residue unaware that these can further exacerbate fire in the region were also stopped.


Fire 2
CEE Team member constructing fire line to break the fire from spreading to other parts of the forest.

CEE and forest departments can work together to create public awareness regarding forest fire. Preparation and distribution of information education communication (IEC) regarding causes and effects of forest fire is essential. Organizing events on important days like World Forestry Day, Earth Day etc., can garner public attention towards such issues. Education and training program for school children and villagers about the importance of forest protection, causes and effects of forest fires and preventive measures is also necessary.

Story by:
Abdhesh Kumar Gangwar,
Programme Director,
Centre for Environment Education,
CEE Himalaya and CEE North-East.

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