Kerala moots concerted action to check forest fires

Keralamoots concerted action to check forest fires

11 March 2008

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Kerala, India — Kerala forest Minister BenoyViswam said last night that he would be writing to his counterparts in theSouthern States for joint monitoring and concerted action for prevention andcontrol of forest fires.

The Minister’s move comes in the wake of widespread occurrence of fires on the Western Ghats especially in the border areas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with Kerala.

Mr. Viswam told The Hindu that he would be writing not only to the forest ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka but also to the forest ministers of Pondicherry and Andhra Pradesh who had attended the conferences of forest ministers of Southern States.

Fire maps from the satellite based MODIS Rapid Response System of the United States showed that a number of fires had occurred in the core areas of NBR in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala during 24 hours that ended on Sunday. According to reports reaching here, several hundred acres of forests were damaged in fires at Moolahalla in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. A few fires occurred in the buffer area of the Silent Valley and one was very close to the core area.

During the last two months, fires had occurred in Tamil Nadu forests close to its border with Kerala. One of those fires was just some kilometres away from the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala and Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary of Karnataka are under threat from fires caused by people traversing the Kerala Karnataka border. Degradation of forests in one State affects in the forests in the neighbouring State.

Forest fires detected by satellite systems in the core and buffer zones of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) during 48 hours ended on Monday. Map shows boundaries of States and core area of NBR. Photo: NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System

The NilgiriBiosphere Reserve was constituted in 1986 under UNESCO’S Man and BiosphereProgramme. The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Wayanad WildlifeSanctuary, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Mukurthi NationalPark and Silent Valley National Park fall within the Reserve. The Biosphereharbours 3.187 species of flowering plants. Of 185 taxa that are recorded asthreatened species from Southern Western Ghats, 53 are found in Nilgiris.

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