Wildfire likely to rage this year: Experts

Wildfire likely to rage this year: Experts

23 February 2010

published by http://thehimalayantimes.com

KATHMANDU: Experts on forest fire have warned that the situation of forest fire could be worse this year as compared to previous years. Nepal had witnessed severe wildfire incidents on the second week of March last year.

According to Sundar Prasad Sharma, Sundar Prasad Sharma, Coordinator, Regional South Asia Wildland Fire Network under the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR), 2135 active forest fire were recorded in 2009.

The South East Asian countries like Cambodia, Myanmar have been witnessing large number of forest fires as compared to previous years and there have been predictions that South Asia region would a similar condition this year.

Notably, NASA satellite images have shown glimpse of large-scale forest fires in the country that was rare for in the past.

High intensity crown fires in the national parks and conservation areas occurred for the first time in history in the second week of March last year. “The increment in the large-scale forest fire should be taken more seriously because large amount of carbon dioxide, a major gas responsible for global warming is emitted during fire and that could change the regional climatic pattern,” explained Sharma.

Further, as per 2005 data, 58 per cent of the total forest fires in Nepal were deliberate followed by 22 per cent due to negligence and 20 per cent were accidental. Sharma lamented though controlling forest fire is a need; strategy to control forest fire, however, allows accumulation of litters that are the fuel for the fire and turns small fire into intense ones destroying huge forest area.

Despite incomplete and inconsistent data, it is estimated that 350 million hectares of forest are destroyed by fire every year and about 90 per cent of wildfires are caused by human activities. Ironically, the nation still lacks policy to fight the forest fire. Nevertheless the ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) has been preparing a forest fire strategy.

According to Bijay Raj Paudel, team leader, National Strategy for Forest Fire Management, the document has been prepared and submitted to the ministry for approval. Ram Prasad Lamsal, spokesperson, MoFSC, said, “The strategy will be approved very soon.”


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