Forest fires occur annually in all major climatic regions of Nepal. The maincauses of forest fires are anthropogenic due to negligence and occasionally bydeliberate burning to induce grass growth for domestic animals. It occurs duringdry season from February to May. Nepal does not have actual data about thenumber of fires, severity and amount of loss. Forest fire destroys timber andnon-timber forest products. Fires also reduce biological diversity of theforests to a great extent. In addition fires degrade the soil, inducing floodand landslides.
Although communities tend to control fires in their own forests, the risk offire in state owned forests is high. There is no systematic plan to reduce andprevent risk of fire hazards. Topographic conditions, climate, vegetation, lowlevel of education, lack of property and dependence on forest resources increaseforest fire risk. Community level fire groups should be formed and trained by aresponsible organization. Community people are most informative on hazards andcauses of fire and their involvement is a must for fire risk reduction. Top downapproaches adopted by government on fires risk management and response programsfail to address the specific local needs of vulnerable communities and ignoreindigenous mechanisms and their capacities.
Government support on enacting laws and policies for community based firerisk reduction and management is vital. A fire forecasting and early warningsystem would help to manage and conserve fire prone areas more effectively andefficiently.