India needs to think about the most common danger of forests, in the context of forest fire?

Question – India needs to think about the most common danger of forests, in the context of forest fire? Discuss the ecological, economic and social impacts of forest fires and preparedness mechanisms under the “Large Forest Fire Monitoring Programme” to reduce the risk, during such a disaster. 26 February 2022

Answer“Persistent hotter and drier weather due to climate change and other human factors such as land conversion for agriculture and poor forest management are the main drivers behind the increase of forest fire”.

India’s Vulnerability for Forest Fire

“In India, severe fires occur in many forest types, particularly dry deciduous forest, while evergreen, semi-evergreen and montane temperate forests are comparatively less prone. Around 35.46% 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 the forest cover is found to very highly fire-prone”.

  • Problems of forest fire are spread in the entire India. India loses Rs 1,176 crore a year to forest fires.
  • The Himalayan forests, particularly, Garhwal Himalayas have been burning regularly during the last few summers, with colossal loss of vegetation cover of that region.
  • As per the ISFR 2021, India reported a total of 3,45,989 forest fires from November 2020 to June 2021. This is the highest recorded in the country for this period so far. Around 2,58,480 forest fires were reported during the same time in 2018-19, indicating a sharp rise.

Large Forest Fire Monitoring Program:

  • The Forest Survey of India has started the ‘Large Forest Fire Monitoring Program’ in 2019 under the ‘Fire Alert System’ in which real-time monitoring of large forest fires is done with the help of satellite. Despite this, the incidents of human-caused fires are increasing continuously.
  • Forest Survey of India has launched Large Forest Fire Monitoring Programme using near real time SNPP-VIIRS data. This programme is a part of the FAST 3.0 (FSI Fire Alerts System). Herein, FSI will track large fire events across the country and disseminate specific Large Fire alerts with the objective to identify, track and report serious forest fire incidents so as to help monitor such fires at senior level in the State Forest Department. Large Fire tracking aims to improve tactical as well as strategic response to large forest fires.
  • Apart from the above benefits, an important factor is that it helps in decision making which is required for tactical firefighting purposes. Strategic firefighting is essential because it prepares vulnerable areas and allocates resources to prevent large-scale fires rather than the current approach to disaster mitigation.

Mandate:

  • To monitor continuous, large forest fires using near-real time basis
  • For escalation of support from State and National agencies
  • To support decision making for tactical firefighting purposes.
  • To carry out damage assessment from fires in terms of area, severity of burn, canopy cover loss etc.

The incidence of forest fires is increasing in the country and more area is burnt every year. The major reason for this failure is the fragmented approach towards the problem. The country lacks the necessary national focus and technical resources to maintain a systematic forest fire management programme. Considering the serious nature of the problem, it is necessary for the country to make some major reforms in the forest fire management strategy.

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