Forest Fires

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 26, 2022, 13:15

Climate change has brought about a lot of concerning changes around the world. Even though wildfires are a natural occurrence in some forest ecosystems, India seems to have experienced one of the worst fire seasons in 2022. With hot and dry weather caused by climate change along with poor land management conditions, there has been a rise in high-intensity Forest Fires in the first three months of 2022.

A report published by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water has stated that there has been a tenfold increase in Forest Fires in the past two decades. Rising temperatures and a low humidity rate are the reason behind these wildfires. The FSI or The Forest Survey of India has recorded 1,36,604 fire points in the country, which have caused large amounts of damage to forests.

What Is a Forest Fire?

Forest Fires are uncontrollable wildfires that burn down plants, animals, grasslands, and everything that falls in their path. Climate changes generally cause wildfires that last for a long time. But, certain instances also include fires caused by humans, lightning, or extreme drought.

What Is a Forest Fires Season?

Every year Forest Fires begin in mid-February. It starts during winter and monsoon. The fires happen due to the onset of spring when the trees shed their dry leaves. The soil during this time loses moisture because of the increased temperature. From February, the forest fire season continues till June. In India, Forest Fires usually occur during March and April.

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Forest Fires in 2022

In the past few months, multiple reports of Forest Fires have been recorded across Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan. Fires broke out at Odisha's Simlipal Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladkui Jungles in Madhya Pradesh, and the forested areas of the Majhgawan region of Satna district. One of the recent cases of unseasonal Forest Fires includes the fire at Rajasthan's Sariska Tiger Reserve. It took around 400 people and six days to control the fire that had broken out in the tiger reserve on 27th March.

Study shows that Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, and Northeastern states are vulnerable to Forest Fires. Some more forest fire reports for March 2022:

  • Forest Fires have doubled in Uttarakhand in the past 10 days. According to a report from the Times of India, there have been 313 Forest Fires from April 1-10, consuming 374.79 hectares.
  • There have been 14,487 cases of Forest Fires in Chhattisgarh during March 2022. 31st March recorded 1571 active Forest Fires.
  • A total of 28,000 Forest Fires were reported in March in areas around Madhya Pradesh.

The CEEW report stated that Forest Fires should be recorded as a disaster under the National Disaster Management Act. By designating Forest Fires as disasters, a financial allotment team would be made to manage these fires. Presently, the forest departments manage the fires, which seem to be understaffed and don't have the skills to handle the wildfires.

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FAQs on Forest Fires

Q.1. What are the three types of Forest Fires?

The three types of Forest Fires are ground, crown, and surface fires. Ground fires occur in the deep parts of the soil that affect humus and peat. Crown fires burn trees up to the top, and surface fires burn the surface litter.

Q.2. What are the effects of Forest Fires?

Forest Fires lead to a loss of biodiversity and the extinction of multiple plants and animals.

Q.3. How do Forest Fires affect climate change?

It releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, affecting climatic conditions. Extreme fires tend to release large amounts of CO2 in a very short time. Apart from smoke, Forest Fires leave long-lasting changes on the ground that affect trees' new growth.

Q.4. How do Forest Fires affect the ozone layer?

Forest Fires are harmful enough to destroy the ozone layer. Fires worsen the conditions of ozone levels by releasing toxic elements like nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons.

Q.5. How are Forest Fires caused by humans?

Humans cause around 85% of the forest in the United States. Forest Fires occur due to actions like unattended campfires, burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, etc.