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

News-CRUX-10     19th June 2024        

Context: Himachal Pradesh is currently experiencing widespread forest fires, with the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department reporting a total of 1,684 fires since April 15.

Forest fire

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

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

  • Types of Forest Fires

oSurface Fire: Spreads along the ground, burning surface litter like leaves and twigs.

oUnderground Fire: Consumes organic matter beneath the surface, spreading slowly and often undetected, also known as muck fires.

oGround Fire: Burns subsurface organic fuels such as duff layers and roots, often more damaging than surface fires.

oCrown Fire: Burns the crowns of trees and shrubs, often fueled by surface fires, especially dangerous in coniferous forests.

oFirestorms: Rapidly spreading intense fires, creating fiery twisters with temperatures reaching around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Government Initiatives

  • National Action Plan for Forest Fires (NAPFF): It was launched in 2018 to reduce forest fires by informing, enabling, and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivizing their collaboration with state forest departments. 
  • Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM): It is the sole government-sponsored program dedicated to assisting states in managing forest fires.

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. 
  • Most prone regionSevere fires occur in dry deciduous forests, with forests in Northeast India, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand being the most vulnerable.

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