Saving the forests

The increasing number of forest fire incidents during past few years, have proved very destructive for the green gold, already facing a threat from the timber smugglers in the valley. The non-availability of the modern equipment and techniques to combat these forest fires is proving very damaging. are taking heavy toll on the states green gold.

As per reports, thousands of trees including new saplings of herbs and shrubs get destroyed in a number of forest fire incidents across North, South and Central Kashmir forest areas in the recent past. However in absence of any effective fire fighting measures it took brave efforts from the forest department to douse the fire. The employees who go to the forest areas to douse forest fires do it without any safety gears required during such operations. The department is also expected to have rapid response mechanisms to prevent forest fires from spreading, however, usually it took many hours for the Forest Department to notice and mobilize its men to respond to the fires; and the kind of response that is usually undertaken is of no value. Though forest fire incidents mostly occurred in rural and upper areas, and being in the interiors and upper reaches, the forest department finds it very tough to do the job; many of its employees and officials sustained injuries. The dry spell remains a major cause for the increasing number of forest fire incidents.

People believe that the Forest Department must invest in developing a response system which is quick, is able to mobilize manpower in a short span of time, and has at its disposal all modern gadgets in containing the forest fires.

Experts say there are two types of forest fires like ground fire and crown fire. What we usually witness here is the ground fire, it arises at places where organic matter is heaped up and the litter catch fire. Such fires are subterranean, flameless and continue for a long period smouldering the organic matter. As a result, dehumification of the soil takes place while as in crown fire, it is the most destructive fire, generally caused by some physical reasons. It not only destroys the tree tops but also the entire vegetational cover.

Meanwhile, the department claim that they are always alert to tackle such incidents anywhere. “This are the forest department personal that go into these areas and douse the fire, adding that it takes some time to control the fire manually as there is no access to fire tenders and other equipments to these forests”, said the Conservator of Forests Zubair Ahmed. He further said that the long dry spell of weather leads to the increase in number of forest fire incidents. “This is a risky job in such circumstances”. These operations need brushing which many times has proved dangerous to our employees; however we ensure that safety gears are made available to the employees while dousing the fire. We mostly go with the traditional preventive measures. In this method a strip of forest is cleared from the vegetation, which checks forest fire from spreading; it also involves cleaning of dry and dead vegetative material from the forest.

The forest department has asked people to help in preventing forest fires and make their own contribution to environment.

Irfan Raina is Correspondent at the Greater Kashmir