Forest Fires in Himalayas – UPSC Prelims

How fire prone are Himalayan forests?
  • Except for periods of precipitation in monsoon and winter, the forests remain vulnerable to wildfires.
  • Forest fires are a recurrent annual phenomenon in the state, and most commonly occur in Chir Pine forests.
  • In the summer season, forest fires occur frequently in the low and middle hills of the state, where forests of Chir Pine are common.
  • During the post-monsoon season and in winters, forest fires are also reported in higher areas, including parts of Shimla, Kullu, Chamba, Kangra and Mandi districts, where they usually occur in grasslands.
What causes the fire?
  • Natural causes such as lightning or rubbing of dry bamboos with each other can sometimes result in fires, but forest officials maintain that almost all forest fires can be attributed to human factors.
  • When the grass is dry, even a small spark, such as someone dropping a burning matchstick, torchwood or a bidi/cigarette, can cause a massive fire. A spark can also be produced when dry pine needles or leaves fall on an electric pole.
  • Also, when people burn their fields to clear them of stubble, dry grass or undergrowth, the fire sometimes spreads to the adjoining forest.
Why in news?
  • Himachal Pradesh frequently witnesses forest fires during dry weather conditions.
  • This month, a forest fire which started near Kullu raged for several days before being brought under control.

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