Work on constructing fire lines begins in Mukurthi National Park

February 16, 2020 11:11 pm | Updated 11:11 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

 Forest department staff clearing shrubs to make fire lines at the Mukuruthi National Park near Udhagamandalam ahead of summer.

Forest department staff clearing shrubs to make fire lines at the Mukuruthi National Park near Udhagamandalam ahead of summer.

Preparing for the summer and peak fire season, the forest department has begun work on construction of fire lines in the Mukurthi National Park (MNP).

Officials said that work has already been completed on “fire lines,” also known as “fire breaks,” in a portion of the park. Fire lines are described as an artificially formed break in foliage or forest cover to control the spread of wildfires by limiting the amount of combustible vegetation available.

This year, already 20 km. of fire lines have already been constructed, with another equivalent amount of fire lines to be constructed in the coming months.

“As there were fires in some areas which are most prone to wildfires last year, there will be no “cool burning” done to control the vegetation available this year,” said Deputy Director of the Mukurthi National Park, S. Senbagapriya. Cool burning is done in the national park, which is closed to tourists, in a controlled manner by artificially creating small, localised fires to limit the amount of vegetation available in any given area, meaning any fires that occur during the summer will not have any build-up of “vegetative fuel” to use to become a large, uncontrollable fire.

“We do not expect very intense fires in the park this year, due to a variety of factors, but every step is being taken to ensure that the chance of major fires affecting the park is minimised,” said another top forest department official.

The removal of invasive trees, such as wattle is also set to be stepped up in the national park. Officials said that they had noticed the spread of the trees from Kolaribetta Peak and Korakundah Forest Ranges in the Nilgiris division into the national park. As a result, sanction has been sought to remove around 20 hectares of invasive wattle trees which have encroached into MNP, officials said.

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