Kerala

Tribespeople to help combat wildfires

Steps include controlled burning

The Forest Department has spent only a meagre portion of the amount sanctioned for fire-line clearance works with a change in its approach to participatory management to combat wildfires.

An official said over 90% of the wildfires were man-made and participatory management involved tribespeople in fire-control measures. It included awareness campaigns, controlled burning, and other measures to prevent wildfires with the support of communities depending on forests.

In the Thrissur circle, it has been decided not to spend the amount for fire-line clearance as it is found ineffective in preventing wildfires. Though crores of rupees are spent each year for fire-line clearance, it has been found ineffective in controlling fires.

The official said even if the fire line is cleared, it would be prone to fire again with dried grass and fallen leaves. However, it would be more effective if measures to prevent the cause of fires are taken. As Idukki has evergreen, deciduous, and dry deciduous forests and grasslands, with many bordering roads, hundreds of kilometres of fire lines are cleared each year. However, only 10% of the area has been cleared so far in the district.

Last year, over 200 ha of forestland at Vattavada, including eucalyptus plantations, were destroyed in wildfires.

There were allegations that the wildfires were man-made and it lasted for days causing damage to wildlife.

Grasslands

It has been found that the grasslands are burnt during summer season by people rearing cattle. Such incidents could be prevented if awareness campaigns are held involving tribal communities, the official said, adding that there are no curbs in releasing funds for fire-prevention measures.

As the amount is spent among the tribal communities, it would generate an income for them. He said campaigns would be held in each settlement in the forest.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 7:39:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tribespeople-to-help-combat-wildfires/article30785848.ece

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