Kathmandu, Nepal — Forest fires that are common during the windy monthsacross the country are having a negative impact on the existing forest coverapart from adversely affecting the natural habitat of wildlife.
Uncontrolled grazing practices, frequent fire and cutting of plants have beenposing threat to the forest.
Among them forest fire is taken to be the most widely felt threat, which doesincalculable harm to extensive forest area. A single uncontrolled fire can ruina forest and finish off the work of generations of forest officers. The causesof Forest fires can be broadly grouped into two classes � natural causes,man’s carelessness.
The natural causes which start a forest fire may be lightning, rolling stones orrubbing of dry bamboos with each other. One of these three causes, lightening isresponsible for more fires than any of the other two causes.
About 95 per cent of the fires in the country are caused by man. Man may causethese fires either unintentionally or intentionally like leaving fire burning,throwing of burning matchstick or cigarette and throwing of torchwood byvillagers while passing through the forest in the night.
Ranger Dhruba Shrestha of District Forest Office Kathmandu says,”A fireaffects the productivity of the forest. Repeated fires degenerate a valuableevergreen forest into inferior deciduous forest or even grasslands. Valuablespecies disappear and their place is taken by inferior fire. Density andincrement of forest is reduced and this affects the yields.”
Shrestha says.” Forest fire results in enormous loss to wild animals andbirds. It burns not only the eggs or young ones but sometimes even biggeranimals also. As the destruction of wild animals destroys a valuable part of theenvironment, natural equilibrium is seriously affected with consequent adverseeffect on vegetation itself.”
Fire is one of the most destructive agencies of damage to country’s forests,methods of protection against damage by fire should be carefully devised andexecuted. It is necessary to educate public opinion through press, radio,television, posters, films shows and lectures about the causes of fires an theireffect.
Inspite of great importance of forests in the well being of the people ingeneral and the economy of the country, forests are fighting for their survivalnot only in this country but all over the world, said Shrestha.
The Master Plan for the forest sector of Nepal (MPFSN, 1998) estimates thatforests cover a total of approximately 37% of Nepal’s land, which is equal to5.5 million hectares out of a total of 14 million hectares.