India — PATNA: Forest officials at Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) have employed controlled burning method to protect the reserve from forest fires that usually take place during the summer months of May-June destroying flora and fauna in the area.
Field director cum conservator of forests, VTR, Santosh Tiwari said the exercise is underway since February 15 and 90% area has already been covered.
Tiwari told TOI, “During summer season, locals set dry leaves and ‘kharkharai’ on fire which, most of the time, leads to wild fire. At times, it becomes uncontrollable and spreads across almost 100 acres.” With the controlled burning method, the officials concerned would be able to stop forest fires before they spread and cause loss of wildlife and resources.
An area of about 100mX100m is first marked and then controlled burning is done on that land. Controlled fire is a tool used by foresters for hazard reduction and is conducted during the cooler months to reduce fuel build-up and decrease the likelihood of serious fire.
All ranges of the VTR, including Manguraha, Govardhana and Raghiya in division 1 and Madanpur, Valmiki Nagar, Ganauli, Harnatand and Chyutaha in division 2, would undergo this process. “Last year, we did not have any data about which areas were more fire-prone, but this year we have marked the areas and are better prepared to put off forest fires in due time,” said Tiwari.
Asked if controlled burning was a hazard for the wildlife of the reserved forest, Tiwari said, “We do not venture into the dense areas where animals reside. Also, most animals come out only during night time and our work is done during day time, so no untoward incident has been reported from anywhere.”
He added the reports about wildlife being harmed in controlled fire were totally false.
The exercise of controlled fire would be completed within a few days, he added.