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Worst Forest Fire in Decades: All You Need to Know

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
Forest Fire
Forest Fire

Climate change has been the leading cause of increasing the risk and extent of Forest Fire or Wildfires. Various researches highlights that changes in climate create warmer and drier conditions which further increases the chances of longer forest fires and drought. 

Some Instances of Forest Fires: 

  • Very recently, a huge forest fire in Cyprus has killed 4 people, damaged homes and forced evacuations of villages as Greece, Israel and other countries deployed fire-fighting planes to this Mediterranean island. "It is a Tragedy" and describing it as "The Largest Fire since 1974" said President Nicos Anastasiades on Twitter. 

  • In January this year, we saw prolonged fires in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh (Kullu Valley) and Nagaland-Manipur border (Dzukou Valley). 

  • Simlipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha seen a major forest fire between February-end and early March 2021. 

  • Recent fires also include those in Bandhavgarh Forest Reserves of Madhya Pradesh and in sanctuaries for the Asiatic lion and the great Indian bustard in Gujarat. 

What is Forest Fire? 

Forest Fires are also known as bush or wildfire or vegetation fire, we can describe it as any uncontrolled burning or combustion of plants in any natural ecosystem like as a forest, grassland, brush land or tundra, which utilizes the natural fuels based on environmental conditions like wind & topography of that place. There are 3 things which should be available in order for a wildfire to burn: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source. 

Causes of Forest Fire 

In case of USA, around 80% of forest fires are caused by humans through discarded cigarettes, power-lines arcs and sparks from equipment. Sometimes, wildfires also takes place in communities experiencing shifting cultivation, where land is cleared quickly and farmed until the soil loses fertility, and slash and burn clearing. 

Other leading natural causes of wildfires includes:  

  • Dry Climate

  • Global Warming

  • Lightning

  • Volcanic Eruption

How Forest Fires are detected? 

  • In wilderness or remote areas, forest fires are detected through Earth-Observing Satellites as their cameras and remote sensors are well advanced to estimate the fire's evolution and provide situational awareness that saves many lives. 

  • Aerial monitoring and satellite view through the use of planes, helicopter or UAVs can give  a much wider view and may be sufficient enough to monitor very large low- risk areas. These sophisticated systems have GPS and aircraft-mounted infrared or high-resolution visible cameras to find and target wildfires. 

Impacts of Forest Fire: 

  • Forest fires can have numerous side-effects on the forest cover, soil, tree growth, vegetation, and the wildlife of surrounding region.

  • This made several hectares of forest useless and leave behind ash, making it inappropriate and unfit for any vegetation growth of that region.

  • It also decreases soil quality with the alteration in their compositions, soil moisture and fertility, too, is affected.

  • There is a destruction of animal habitats during the forest fire as forests shrink in size.

  • Those trees that survives fire often remain stunted and their growth is severely affected.

Efforts to Mitigate Forest Fires

  • Forest Survey of India in 2004, developed the 'Forest Fire Alert System' to monitor and regulate forest fires in real times. 

  • In January 2019, its advanced version has launched, the system now utilizes the information received from satellite from NASA and ISRO.

  • In 2018, National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF) and Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme also came into existence.

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