With summer round the corner and forest fires posing a threat to the three forest divisions in the district, the frontline officials of the Periya forest range under the North Wayanad forest division came out with various innovative programmes to avert a disaster in the hill district.
The officials organised many innovative programmes like tree house (Machan) erecting competition, volleyball tournament, drawing and painting competition, magic shows, awareness classes, and distribution of sports equipment kits, for the public including villagers, students, forest watchers, and tribesmen living on the fringes of forests, to sensitise them on the significance of forest conservation and the impact of forest fire.
The forest range also distributed backpacks, tiffin boxes, flasks, and provisions for the temporary fire watchers with aid from Wildlife Trust of India.
As many as 10 tree houses were built in strategic points under the forest range as a part of the competition, and prizes were given away to the participants, Periya Forest Range Officer K. Hasif said.
The tree houses can be used as resting places, a spot for distribution of provisions to fire watchers and for watching any chance for a fire outbreak, K.V. Ananadan, Deputy Forest Range Officer, said
The officials also conducted a volleyball tournament near Periya town with support from Vana Samrakshana Samiti members, which drew a huge crowd. Billboards were erected around the ground and announcements were made occasionally on forest fire and the significance of conserving forests.
The accumulation of combustible materials in the forest owing to fewer forest fire incidents over the past many years, the absence of summer rain, and a considerable increase in temperature during daytime, pose a severe threat to the wildlife habitat this year, Mr. Hashif said.
“We are adopting all possible steps to avert the fire but all the measures would prove in vain without the support of the public, as 99% of forest fires are man-made nowadays,” he added.
There is also fear of migration of wildlife from adjacent tiger reserves in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu States during the summer, wildlife managers say. This may result in more incidents of man-animal conflict in the forests adjoining Kerala, they add.