Forest Fires: A recurring disaster in the state of Uttarakhand


Forest fire has been emerging as most recurring disaster in the state of Uttarakhand. The first incident of fire was reported in early February and since then the ravaging fire has spread to 13 districts of the state destroying nearly 3,000 acres of forest land. Forest stretches in districts of Rudraprayag, Pauri, Chamoli, Almora, Nainital and Dehradun are the worst affected. The fire also spread to agricultural fields and human habitations.

Working on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Climate Change (CC) and Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD), CEE Himalaya, immediately alerted the villagers and joined local forest department in organizing people to collectively dowse the spreading fire flames and making fire lines. Door-to-door awareness programme to raise awareness on the causes of forest fires, fire safety, and demonstration of fire-line construction (a gap is constructed in vegetation or other combustible material that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of wildfire as it removes all the materials that fuels up this wildfire) methods to prevent wildfires in the region was also conducted.

Locals were also informed that one of the major reasons of increasing incidences of wildfire in the region is huge forest cover of pine trees that catch fire quickly. Traditional trees like Burans ( Rhododendron arboreum Sm.) , Banj or White oak tree ( Quercus spp.) that were native to the mountain ecosystem were promoted by the team and motivated the locals to regenerate forest with trees native to the mountains.