Karnataka

Forest fires more than doubled in 2016 in State: Report

in flames: Experts attribute the spike in numbers to the failure of pre-monsoon showers and extreme moisture stress because of the failure of southwest monsoon.   | Photo Credit: jeevan chinnappa

With pre-monsoon showers largely failing and summer temperature touching a record high, the number of forest fires in the State has more than doubled over the past year.

While the State saw 295 forest fires in 2015, the number rose drastically to 830 so far this year, says the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, which recently submitted a report on ‘forest fires and its effect on environment, forests, biodiversity, and wildlife’. Nationally, fires detected rose by over 55 per cent, but in Karnataka it was a 181 per cent rise.

‘Monsoon failure’

Experts in the conservation circles here have attributed the spike in numbers to the failure of pre-monsoon showers this year and extreme moisture stress due to the failure of the southwest monsoon as well. However, they remain sceptical of the official figures and believe that the number would be higher if other forests, apart from wildlife-rich national parks and sanctuaries, are considered.

Nagarahole Park director Manikantan said the number of incidences should not be a matter of concern as much as the area devastated by the fire. A minor fire may consume less than 10 acres, but a major conflagration can reduce hundreds of acres of forests to cinders.

Both Bandipur and Nagarahole have a fire prevention protocol and include preventive measures such as burning fire lines, recruiting fire watchers on a temporary basis, and conducting awareness campaign on the negative impact of forest fires.

However, activists drew attention to the lack of fire prevention plan in the territorial divisions, which adjoin the national parks. “No importance is attached to a fire if it breaks out in the adjoining Sollepura reserve forests (close to Nagarahole),” said a conservationist. The lack of focus was visible in 2014, when a fire blazed across the Titimathi forests in Kodagu for four days, while in the adjonining Anechowkur range in Nagarahole it was brought under control within a day.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 1:38:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Forest-fires-more-than-doubled-in-2016-in-State-Report/article16919405.ece

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