Bhutan — Forest fire is a major threat that has implication on human lives and property, forest resources and the environment. In five years (2003-2008), forest fires affected 96,155 acres of forest land and damage valuable timber and wildlife resources. There have also been instances where human lives and property were also lost to forest fires. (Director, DoF)
The Department of Forests has been trying its best to manage forest fires with its limited and thinly spread out human resources across the country. In this endeavor, the Department had received continuous support and cooperation from the Armed Forces, Dzongkhag Administration and local communities in forest fire suppression.
Since the Department of Forests alone is not in a position to prevent, suppress and control forest fires, and it is not always possible to get the support of the Armed Forces and public everywhere, the Department realized the need to start a Forest Fire Volunteer (FFV) program to solicit support from the general public including business communities, private agencies and the civil service. Since the Forest Fire Volunteer Program started in April 2008: initiated by Forest Fire Management Section have conducted several workshops, meetings and basic training on fire fighting techniques and safety measures to all the registered forest fire volunteers and to the representative from Armed forces. Further the Department will be conducting the same training to newly registered fire volunteers and armed forces (Gopal Mahat, JD, FPUD)
The Department of Forests felt very important to construct and developed a well coordinated forest fire coordination mechanism which is also known as Incident Command System (ICS); since numbers of stake holders will be engaged during the forest fire incidences. This mechanism shall have single standardize incident management system which shall be used by all the emergency response disciplines. This program will also provide accurate information, accountability and cost effective operations and logistical support for any incident. Accordingly, the Forest Fire Management Section under the Forest Protection and Utilization Division in collaboration with the Thimphu Forest Division have developed an Incident Command System (ICS)/coordination mechanism and presented on 22nd September 2008 (presented by Bap Tandy, karma Jigme and Ugyen Tenzin) to the Department, representative from Armed Forces, Dzongkhag Administration, Dzongkhag Forestry and the group leaders from the forest fire volunteers. The draft coordination mechanism was agreed to be implemented during the up-coming forest fire season. The same program may be replicated in all the fire prone Dzongkhags after evaluating the effectiveness of the program in Thimphu.