Forest fires frequency, intensity went up in past 2 decades: study

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What is the News?

Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has released a study titled ‘Managing Forest Fires in a Changing Climate’.

What are the key findings of the study?
Source: CEEW

Increase in Forest Fires: There has been a ten-fold increase in forest fires in the past two decades, and more than 62% of Indian states are prone to high-intensity forest fires.

States Prone to Forest Fires: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra are the most prone to high-intensity forest fire events caused by rapid changes in the climate.

State with the highest number of forest fire incidences: Mizoram has had the highest number of forest fire incidences in the last two decades, with more than 95% of its districts being forest fire hotspots.

Extreme Forest Fire Hotspots: More than 75 % of Indian districts are extreme climate event hotspots, and more than 30 % of districts are extreme forest fire hotspots.

Northeastern Region(NER): Most of the NER are also witnessing an increased frequency of forest fire incidences in recent decades.

Prolonged Period of Forest Fire Incidences: The duration that forest fires could take place was two to three months earlier, but it is now nearly six months.

What are the recommendations given by the study?

Recognise Forest Fire as a Disaster: Forest fires should be treated as “natural disasters” and be brought under the National Disaster Management Authority. Moreover, by designating forest fires as natural disasters, there will also be a financial allotment made to manage them.

Develop Forest Fire Alert system: A forest fire only alert system needs to be developed that can provide real-time impact-based alerts.

Enhance adaptive capacity: Capacity-building initiatives targeted at district administrations and forest-dependent communities can avert the extent of loss and damage due to forest fires. For example, Training on high technology-focused equipment (like drones) and nature-based modules (e.g. creating effective forest fire lines) can effectively mitigate the spread of forest fires.

Provide Clean Air Shelters: The state government/ state forest departments (SFDs) should repurpose public buildings like government schools and community halls by fitting them with clean air solutions – like air filters – to create clean air shelters for communities worst impacted by fires and smoke from forest fires.

Source: This post is based on the article Forest fires frequency, intensity went up in past 2 decades: studypublished in Indian Express on 8th April 2022.

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