Forest Fire Mitigation
Forest Fire Mitigation
10 February 2009
published by www.morungexpress.com
Australia — Australias deadliest wildfires killing over 200 people and destroying vast hectares of prime forest land is a grim reminder of the tragedy that waits to unfold because of our own human failings. There is already increased pressure to take firm action on climate change even as scientists point out that global warming contributed to conditions that fuelled the disaster. That climate change is indeed a grim reality is evidenced by the record heat wave in southern Victoria state over the past week days, while large areas of Queensland state remain flooded by tropical downpours. And a leading climate scientist has now cautioned that both globally and in Australia there has been a warming trend since about 1950. This statistic is hardly surprising given that even for many of us living in Dimapur and its adjoining areas, this years winter has been much warmer. This phenomenon points to the effects of global warming in Nagaland. And in fact only recently, the Morung Express carried a story where according to the States department of Forest, Ecology, Environment and Wildlife, interactions with local farmers suggest a marked change in the climatic patterns that have come to affect their agricultural calendar.
Coming back to the bush fire disaster in Australia, it immediately conjures up images of Dzukuo valley, which was partially ravaged by fire in the year 2006. In fact large tracts of pristine forest cover in the Dzukou Valley was left burning for days on end without any appropriate response, neither from the government, the NGOs nor from the local media. It was only after Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had sent an SOS communiqué to New Delhi that effective response came in. But then recalling the Dzukou fire in 2006 or the inferno caused by bushfires in Australia, one is made to wonder about the State governments level of preparedness to deal with such incidents in future. The government should take a more serious approach to put in place an in-built disaster management system that is able to respond appropriately in a holistic manner to any given situation. Several workshops, seminars and trainings on disaster management were conducted for the last five years with much fanfare and media hype. Whether or not they will have the required impact on real life disasters, though still remains to be seen.
The Australian bushfire accident has several lessons for all concerned including in Nagaland, which has large tracts of forest land and where jhum cultivation is the main agricultural practice prevailing among the farmers. To avert such kind of accidents in the State, the government should take appropriate measures besides creating awareness at the village levels especially during the prevailing dry season. This should include disseminating information capsule (in the respective local dialects) on safe farming methodology so that Naga farmers who are closest to nature are able to live in harmony with nature while enjoying the benefits therein. After all a bushfire can occur not only in Australia but also in many places around the world where there is plenty of wood, leaves or forest that can burn. Our task should be to see to it that we are able to combat or prevent such fires. For us in Nagaland, the recent bushfire inferno in Australia should be a wakeup call on the adverse impact of climate change and also ensuring a high level of preparedness against any form of disaster.