FOREST FIRE IN INDIA (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Disaster Management)

News-CRUX-10     29th April 2024        
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Context: The state forest department recently stated that the fires engulfing the forests of Nainital and Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand were predominantly caused by human activities.

Forest fire

  • About: An unclosed and freely spreading combustion that consumes the natural fuels.

o When a fire burns out of control it is known as Wild Fire.

Types of Forest Fires

  • Ground Fires

o Occur below materials like leaves and peat.

o Slow-moving but can cover large areas if left unattended.

  • Crown Fires

o Highest risk due to fast-spreading behavior.

o Develop on top of trees.

o Can jump from one tree to another, making them highly aggressive.

  • Surface Fires

o Only occur at the surface and are no taller than the average human.

o Relatively easy to extinguish and create the least amount of destruction.

Forest fire in India

  • Forest fire season: November to June is considered to be forest fire season in India, with hundreds of thousands of small and large fires burning every year.
  • Worst fire months: April-May are usually the worst fire months across the country.
  • According to India State of Forest Report (ISFR): More than 36% of India’s forest cover was prone to frequent fires. About 4% of the forest cover was ‘extremely prone’ to fire, and another 6% was ‘very highly’ fire prone. 
  • Globally, about 3% of the total forest area, or about 98 million hectares of forest, were affected by fires in the year 2015, mostly in the tropical regions.
  • Most prone region

o Severe fires occur in dry deciduous forests, with forests in Northeast India, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand being the most vulnerable.

o Recent incidents of forest fires have been reported from Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, and Maharashtra.

  • Impact of Weather Conditions:

o Above-normal temperatures and dry biomass availability since winter have contributed to the early onset of forest fires.