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FSI Report on forest fires

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

FSI Report on forest fires:


Context:

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has released a report on forest fires in the country.

Key findings:

  1. At least 5,291 forest fires were recorded in Odisha between February 22 and March 1, 2021 — the highest in the country for the same period.
  2. Collection of mahua flowers and kendu leaves, practice of shifting cultivation and grazing in forest areas are some of the reasons for forest fires in Odisha.
  3. Telangana recorded the second-highest fires in the country at 1,527 during the same period, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,507) and Andhra Pradesh (1,292), according to FSI data.

Concerns:

  • Forest fires have become an issue of global concern. In many countries, wildfires are burning larger areas, and fire seasons are growing longer due to global warming.
  • Globally, forest fires release billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while hundreds of thousands of people are believed to die due to illnesses caused by exposure to smoke from forest fires and other landscape fires.

Causes of Forest Fire:

Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man-made or anthropogenic causes.

  1. Natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. High atmospheric temperatures and low humidity offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start.
  2. Man-made causes like flame, cigarette, electric spark or any source of ignition will also cause forest fires.
  3. Traditionally Indian forests have been affected by fires. The problem has been aggravated with rising human and cattle population and the increase in demand for grazing, shifting cultivation and Forest products by individuals and communities.
  4. High temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells can intensify the forest fires.

India’s Initiative to Tackle Forest Fire:

National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF): It was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.

The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM) is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.

Sources: Down to Earth.

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