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FOREST FIRES IN INDIA: A DISASTER MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE



  May 14, 2024

FOREST FIRES IN INDIA: A DISASTER MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVE



Extent of Damage

Forest fires have caused significant destruction in India, with the country losing 38,100 hectares of tree cover since 2001. Recent data shows a resurgence in forest fires, with 2,130 hectares lost in 2023 alone.

Peak Fire Season

India’s peak fire season spans from late February to May, a period marked by dry conditions and high temperatures, making forests highly susceptible to fires.

High-Risk Areas

- Uttarakhand: Recent fires in Garhwal and Kumaon regions have highlighted the vulnerability of this area.

- Odisha and Arunachal Pradesh: These states have been hardest hit, each losing over 200 hectares of tree cover due to fires from 2001 to 2023.

Global Context

Globally, forest fires are a major cause of tree cover loss. In 2023, Canada reported the highest destruction with 7.76 million hectares lost. Overall, fires accounted for 42% of global tree cover loss that year.

Disaster Management Strategies

1. Early Detection and Monitoring

   - Technology Use: Employ satellite-based monitoring systems like the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) to detect and track fires.

   - Real-Time Alerts: Implement a robust system for issuing real-time fire alerts to relevant authorities and local communities.

2. Community Engagement

   - Awareness Programs: Educate communities on the risks and prevention of forest fires.

   - Volunteer Training: Train local volunteers in fire prevention and first response measures.

3. Prevention Measures

   - Controlled Burns: Conduct controlled burns to reduce the amount of combustible material in forests.

   - Firebreaks: Create and maintain firebreaks to prevent the spread of fires.

   - Forest Management: Implement sustainable forest management practices to reduce the risk of fires.

4. Response and Recovery

   - Rapid Response Teams: Establish and equip rapid response teams to tackle fires as soon as they are detected.

   - Coordination: Ensure coordination between various agencies, including forest departments, fire services, and disaster management authorities.

   - Post-Fire Rehabilitation: Undertake reforestation and rehabilitation efforts to restore affected areas.

5. Policy and Regulation

   - Legislation: Strengthen policies and regulations to enhance forest fire management and accountability.

   - Funding: Allocate sufficient funds for fire prevention, monitoring, and response activities.

   - Research: Invest in research to understand the causes of forest fires and develop innovative solutions.

Conclusion

Effective disaster management strategies are crucial for mitigating the impact of forest fires. By combining early detection, community engagement, preventive measures, rapid response, and strong policies, India can better protect its forests and reduce the devastating effects of fires.



SRIRAM’s


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