Forest fire has become a major environmental concern in the State with many of the wildlife sanctuaries facing the threat of outbreak of wildfire.
A precarious situation prevailed in the Chimminy, Peechi and Periyar forest areas. However, the Silent Valley and the Parambikulam areas were relatively safe, T.M. Manoharan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, said here on Sunday.
The department was facing a war-like situation this year, as over 2,000 hectares of forest cover was destroyed in fire. The perilous situation had caused the forest authorities to close the Eravikulam National Park to visitors. There was high risk of fire in many other places and the situation was being closely monitored, he said.
Initially, the Eravikulam park was closed for the safe calving of Niligiri tahr. However, the outbreak of fire forced the department to extend the closure for one more month. The authorities had earlier closed the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary following the outbreak of fire. The Eravikulam park would remain closed till April.
The incidents of forest fire and loss of forest area were greater than that in the previous years.
Unprecedented drought was the key factor that ignited the fire.
If the situation worsened, more wildlife sanctuaries would be closed to visitors, Mr. Manoharan said.
Forest officials of the Eravikulam National Park registered a case for causing fire in the park. Some miscreants had set the grassland at Pallanad on fire last month and seven hectares of grassland was destroyed in the incident, said A.P. Sunilkumar, wildlife warden of the park.