Forest Fire

Mains Marks Booster     5th August 2023        
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Forest fires, also known as wildfires, are uncontrolled fires that rapidly spread across vegetation and forested areas, fuelled by dry conditions, wind, and flammable material. They are a natural and integral component of many ecosystems, promoting plant diversity and renewal. However, when severe or frequent, they can cause extensive damage to ecosystems, property, and human lives.


  • More than 36% of the country’s forest cover has been estimated to be prone to frequent forest fires. Nearly 4 % of the country’s forest cover is extremely prone to fire, whereas 6% of forest cover is found to be very highly fire prone
  • 54.40% of forests in India are exposed to occasional fires, 7.49% to moderately frequent fires and 2.40% to high incidence levels while 35.71% of India’s forests have not yet been exposed to fires of any real significance. 
  • The annual losses from forest fires in India for the entire country have been moderately estimated at Rs 440 crores
  • Wildfires and volcanic activities affected 6.2 million people between 1998-2017 with 2400 attributable deaths worldwide 
  • The economic impact of forest fires is estimated to be over INR 1101 crore/year.
  • Between 2001 and 2021, around one third of global forest loss i.e. over 118 million hectares of forests was due to forest fires.

In News: India has seen a 115% increase in forest fires in the first 12 days of March on the back of almost no rains in February and hotter-than-normal temperatures.

Causes of Forest Fire

  • Natural causes - Many forest fires start from natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. However, rain extinguishes such fires without causing much damage. High atmospheric temperatures and dryness (low humidity) offer favorable circumstances for a fire to start.
  • Man-made causes - Fire is caused when a source of fire like naked flame, cigarette or bidi, electric spark, or any source of ignition comes into contact with inflammable material.

Impacts on forest fire:

  • Loss of biodiversity: Forest fires destroy habitats and ecosystems, leading to the loss of plant and animal species. 
  • Air pollution: release large amounts of smoke and particulate matter into the atmosphere, which can cause respiratory problems and other health issues for humans and wildlife.
  • Soil erosion: which can cause landslides and other natural disasters.
  • Climate change: contributing to global warming and climate change.
  • Economic impact: Forest fires can have a significant economic impact on communities that rely on forests for timber, recreation, and other industries.
  • Human safety: Forest fires can threaten the safety of people living in or near affected areas, as well as firefighters and other emergency responders.

Solution for forest fire:

  • Prevention: Educating the public about the dangers of starting fires and enforcing laws against arson can help prevent forest fires.
  • Early detection and rapid response: Early detection systems, such as fire towers and satellite imaging, can help identify fires quickly so that they can be contained before they spread.
  • Fire management: Controlled burns and other fire management techniques can help reduce the amount of fuel available for fires and prevent them from spreading.
  • Forest restoration: Restoring degraded forests and promoting reforestation can help create healthier ecosystems that are more resilient to fires.
  • Climate action: Addressing climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to its impacts can help reduce the frequency and severity of forest fires.

Conclusion:

Forest fires' recurrence in recent days is increasing hence there is need to adopt an adaptive management plan is critical. Effective community participation, and creating fire-resilient and adaptive initiatives with increasing green cover are need of the hour. Together using nature-based solutions we will avoid such incidences.

Samadhaan