Nepal — KATHMANDU: Wildfires are destroying dozens of forests managed by the government as well as communities in Nepal, said Regional South Asia Wildland Fire Network (RSAWFN) on Friday.
“Forests managed by the government as well as various Community Forest Users´ Groups (CFUGs) are now burning in many parts of the country,” said Sundar Prasad Sharma, coordinator of the RSAWFN. “But, the government and other concerned organizations are not paying any attention to controlling forest fires.”
According to the RSAWFN, which uses satellite images of the NASA to track forest fires across Nepal, as many as 180 forest fires were detected across Nepal in the last 24 hours, from 4:58 p.m. Thursday to 4:48 p.m. Friday.
“This is the highest number of forest fires recorded so far this year,” said Sharma. “As the government lacks a strong mechanism to control forest fires, more wildfires can be recorded in the days to come.”
“Chitwan, Makwanpur, Bara and other Tarai districts in the central development region are among the worst forest-fire districts,” said Sharma. “Fires are raging through several forests in the central and the mid-western development region, too.”
According to Bharat Kunwar, Chitwan district secretary of the Federation of Community Forest Users´ Groups (FECOFUN), forest fires have gone out of control in different parts of Chiwan. “Especially in Chitwan´s Barandabhar region, north of the East West highway, fires have razed a vast area of forest land in the last few days alone,” said he.
“We are trying our best to control forest fires,” said Kunwar. “But, in some places, forest fires are beyond our control.” According to Kunwar, fires are continuously raging through several forests over the last week.
Kunwar, who is also chairman of Satanchuli Community Forest Users´ Group, says, “In Chitwan, wildlife poachers themselves ignite fires in forests so that they can roam around in the jungle to kill wild animals under the pretext of controlling wildfires.”
Forest fires spread to human settlement
Over a dozen houses and animal sheds in Raigaun VDC of Makwanpur district were gutted in a fire that spread to the human settlement after raging through a local community forest on Thursday, reported Republica correspondent Ramsharan Pudasaini.
The inferno had broken out in Mulkhola Community Forest on Wednesday.
Especially those houses and animal sheds that were close to the forest have been destroyed into ashes, informed Gyan Bahadur Rai, a local teacher. “At first, house of Bhimsen Bishwakarma, a local resident, caught fire which soon spread to other houses,” said Rai.
The fire has destroyed houses of Suman Rai, Hari Bahadur Rai, Jakhu Rai, Ram Rai, Nir Bahadur Shrestha, Jangi Rai and Raju Rai among others.