[Answered] Examine the factors contributing to the increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires in Uttarakhand. Discuss the strategies that should be implemented to make the state’s forest management practices more climate-resilient.

Introduction: Give a brief context to the question

Body: Factors responsible for forest fires and measures to prevent them

Conclusion: Way forward

The recent case of forest fires in Uttarakhand has now spread over 1,000 hectares of forests & may spread to urban parts of Nainital raising concern for state administration & local population.

Factors responsible for forest fires

  • Dry Spells and High Temperatures: Longer dry seasons coupled with rising temperatures create ideal conditions for fires to ignite and spread rapidly.
  • Fuel Accumulation: Accumulation of dead vegetation, fallen branches, and other forest debris creates fuel for fires. This buildup is often the result of fire suppression policies that prevent natural, low-intensity fires from clearing out this debris.
  • Human Activities: Nearly 95 per cent of forest fires in the country, including in Uttarakhand, are initiated by human activities Human activities such as agricultural burning, uncontrolled campfires, discarded cigarettes, and intentional arson contribute significantly to forest fires.
  • Land Use Changes: Deforestation, encroachment into forested areas for agriculture or urban development, and expansion of infrastructure increase the likelihood of ignition and make it harder to control fires once they start.

Making Forests More Resilient

  • Promotion of Controlled Burns: Implement controlled burning practices to reduce fuel accumulation and prevent the buildup of combustible materials. This mimics natural fire cycles and reduces the risk of large, catastrophic fires.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Educate local communities about responsible behavior in forests and the importance of fire prevention.
  • Community Firefighting Teams: Train and equip local communities to participate in initial firefighting efforts and post-fire rehabilitation.
  • Sustainable Livelihoods: Promote alternative sources of income for communities to reduce dependence on forest resources and decrease accidental fires.
  • Forest Restoration and Reforestation: Restore degraded forests through reforestation efforts and promote the use of native species that are more resilient to fire. Healthy, diverse forests are better able to withstand and recover from fire events.

Conclusion

Safeguarding both human lives and the biosphere demands the collaboration of a diverse array of experts, including ecologists, climate scientists, geologists, as well as professionals specializing in fire safety and disaster management.

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