Flora & fauna perish in Kumaon forest fires

Flora & fauna perish in Kumaon forest fires

25 April 2016

published by www.tribuneindia.com

India– Forest animals and reptiles are dying in the Kumaon region following forest fires and the Forest Department is helpless in extinguishing the fires due to shortage of workers and inadequate preparations as the fire season started a month before expected this year.

According to sources from Bageshwar, all six ranges of forest division in the district are under fires which is causing loss worth crores of rupees to forest assets.

Forest officials confirmed that animals were running towards the human settlement due to these fires which has engulfed all six ranges of Kapkot, Kanda, Rima, Banlekh, Garur and Kausani. “Though we have prepared the plan, due to lack of workers, we could not do so as all our employees are above 55 years of age and cannot be deputed in interior ranges,” said MB Singh, DFO, Bageshwar.

According to reports reaching from Chukhuria in Almora and Thal and Berinag ranges of Pithoragarh district, forest fires have engulfed nearby forests and started reaching villages due to lack of efforts made to extinguish these.

“We had to extinguish these with our own efforts last night as it had reached near a residential area and two hay stores burnt, besides a scooter parked near the home,” said Joga Ram, a villager from Bhattigaon village of Berinag.

While sensitive wildlife activists have claimed the a number of wildlife species are destroyed in the fires, the Forest Department has shown no concerned to protect it.

“At present, we are concerned only to save surface forest covers and have no plans to save wild lives. We are increasing the number of crew stations only to safe forests from fires,” said Prem Kumar, Conservator of Forest in the Kumaon region.

Reports of forest fires reaching near residential areas have come from Banbasa, Jauljibi, Didihat, Ranikhet, Tanakpur and Baram areas where the fires have destroyed not only plants, herbs and shrubs but also insects and mammals and reptiles.

“The department should constitute a separate cell to monitor the losses of wild animals and should take measures to save wildlife from this fires that engulf the region every year, killing uncounted number of wild species,” said Kunwar Damodar Rathod, a Vrikshmitra awardee and environment worker in Didihat of Pithoragarh district.The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) has joined hands with Chiang Mai University (CMU) to launch the Haze Free Thailand campaign, encouraging cooperation among related agencies to strengthen communities and dissipate haze conditions.

NRCT’s Acting Secretary-General Sukunya Theerakullert today presided over the launching ceremony of Haze Free Thailand campaign held at Chiang Mai University.

She said that the haze disaster is a persisting issue which happens regularly while becoming more severe, especially during dry and still weather conditions which suspends airborne particulate matters in the air for a prolonged period of time, and thus amplifying the effect it has on the general public.

The haze situation has affected the transport, tourism, society, and the economy in the affected areas causing the number of tourists to drop while threatening the health of the general public who are forced to continue their daily lives under such an unhealthy environment, with heightened health risks to people with low immunity such as elders and children.

The NRCT acting secretary-general has said the NRCT and its network agencies have been supporting research that will help mitigate the haze disaster, and agreed to support large-scale project that will enhance cooperation between government agencies, private companies, and the local public to strengthen the affected communities under the name “Haze Free Thailand”.

The Haze Free Thailand project will be run by Chiang Mai University as the main responsible agency, due to the fact that the university is located in the affected area. The NRCT expects that this campaign will gradually help reduce the severity of the Kingdom’s haze issues in the future. – See more at: http://thainews.prd.go.th/CenterWeb/NewsEN/NewsDetail?NT01_NewsID=WNEVN5904260010018#sthash.UcDzyC0u.dpuf

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