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Biodiversity & Environment

Forest Fires

  • 17 Jun 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

Recently, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Kerala Forest Department to submit its report in one month, on the steps taken to prevent forest fires and implement the National Action Plan on Forest Fire in the State.

Key Points

  • Forest Fires:
    • Fire can play a vital role in keeping the forests healthy, recycling nutrients, helping tree species regenerate, removing invasive weeds and pathogens, and maintaining habitat for some wildlife.
    • As populations and demands on forest resources have grown, the cycle of fire has spun out of balance.
    • 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.
  • Reasons for Forest Fires:
    • Thunderstorms are the most likely natural cause for forest fires.
    • The dry deciduous forests in central and southern India face 5 to 6 months of dry period and are vulnerable to fires.
      • The reasons are mainly manmade, particularly in cases where people visit forests and leave burning bidis, cigarette stubs or other inflammable materials.
    • A major reason for forest fires in north-east India is slash-and-burn cultivation, commonly called jhum cultivation.
      • The north-east has tropical evergreen forests which are not likely to catch fire easily on their own like the dry deciduous forests of central and southern India.
  • 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 plan also intends to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards.
      • It also aims to enhance capabilities of forest personnel and institutions in fighting fires and swift recovery subsequent to fire incidents.
    • Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme:
      • 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.
      • The FPM replaced the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme (IFMS) in 2017.
      • Funds allocated under the FPM are according to a center-state cost-sharing formula, with a 90:10 ratio of central to state funding in the Northeast and Western Himalayan regions and a 60:40 ratio for all other states.
      • It also provides the states to have the flexibility to direct a portion of the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) and Mission for Green India (GIM) funding toward forest fire work.
    • India has set ambitious policy goals for improving the sustainability of its forests.
      • As part of the National Mission for Green India under India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, the government has committed to increase forest and tree cover.
      • Under its Nationally Determined Contribution, India has committed to bringing 33% of its geographical area under forest cover and to create additional sinks of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tons worth of CO2 stored in its forests by 2030.

Source: TH

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