Forest fire engulfs 10 hectares of ‘mini corbett’

Forest fire engulfs 10 hectares of ‘mini corbett’

19 February 2017

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INDIA -—  NAINITAL: In a major incident of forest fire, jungles of Dalmothi in Ranikhet of Almora – also known as ‘Mini Corbett’ due to the area’s rich biodiversity – witnessed a blaze late on Saturday night. According to the area’s forest officials, the fire broke out presumably because someone may have thrown away a lit beedi or match. The fire has now been brought under control and the extent of damage – which is estimated to be in several lakhs – is being assessed.

Umesh Chandra Pandey, range officer of the area said, “Estimated area to be gutted in the fire ranges from 8-10 hectares as we were swift in dousing the fire which took more than 6 hours and 50 staff from the department. Strict vigil through patrolling and human surveillance is being maintained to tackle any such incident and preventing it from becoming devastating accident.”

The forest area of Dalmothi is rich in biodiversity and known as mixed forest which has leopards, Himalyan black bear, hare, deer, Monal pheasant and many more species of flora and fauna making the forest rich enough to accumulate various species. The proposal to convert the forest into a mini safari is already in pipeline.

Deep Bora, a local explaining about causes of fire said, “The reason ranges from carelessness of people throwing half burnt beedi or cigarette to leaving live bonefires. Danger of wild drifting towards populated area looms over people if the fire breaks out ding enough damage to the habitat of the wild.”

Speaking about precautionary measure to prevent forest fires, Pandey added, “Control buring, clearing of fire lines, maintaining proper vigil, ready to go staff and many more including keeping tab on temperature fluctuation, humidity are the steps which are being taken to ensure that no damage occurs due to forest fires.”

Earlier, one hectare of Nanda Devi Biosphere and a few meadows in Munsiyari near Pithoragarh were gutted. The memory of 2016’s devastating fires in the upper reaches of the state’s forests is still fresh in the minds of residents and the administration. The fact that fires have begun well ahead of the expected period of high summer — during which outbreaks are at their peak — has people on edge.

Even though summer is yet to begin, increased frequency of fires in the jungles of both Kumaon and Garhwal are proving to be a major cause of worry. Last year, fires that ravaged through the state’s jungles are believed to have gutted almost 4,500 hectares of forest cover.

In November, 2016, taking exceptionally strict stand on a petition related to rampant forest fires in summers of 2016 in the hill state of Uttarakhand, the high court on Monday ordered the suspension and initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the state forest chief if the forest fire continues for more than 72 hours. The order stated that if the forest fire continues for more than 24 hours, the concerned Divisional Forest Officer shall be deemed to be put under suspension and further if it continues for more than 48 hours, the

Conservator of Forest shall be deemed to be put under suspension.

Earlier, in April 2016, the HC took cognizance of rampant forest fires treating the cases of wild fire in the state of Uttarakhand as PIL. Responding to the court’s direction, in May 2016, the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) in an affidavit to the Uttarakhand high

court on mentioned that a total of 922 incidents of forest fires had occurred in Uttarakhand till April 29, 2016. The fires had resulted in losses to the tune of Rs 18,01,695 the affidavit said.

The forest fire started breaking out in the forests of the hill state across many districts last year and given the conditions of drought like conditions in many districts of the state, the fire refused to die down aggravating the conditions.
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SINGAPORE, Feb 9 — People in Singapore are willing to cough up nearly 1 per cent of their annual income in order to guarantee the absence of transboundary haze for a year, researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have found.

In total, they are willing to pay US$643.5 million (RM2.8 billion) a year — large enough to make a “substantive impact on the problem” if used for land conservation and restoration, the researchers state in a paper published in February’s issue of the journal,Environmental Research Letters.

The paper’s authors, Yuan Lin, Lahiru Wijedasa and Dr Ryan Chisholm, wrote: “Our results indicate that Singaporeans experience sufficiently negative impacts of air pollution (in) their day-to-day life, or personal health during haze periods, that they are willing to trade off personal financial gain for improvements in air quality.”

Transboundary haze is a long-standing problem in the South-east Asian region, largely caused by the drainage of carbon-rich peatland as well as companies and farmers in Indonesia using fire to clear land.

Singapore experienced its worst haze episode in 2015 from September to November, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels.

Since then, Indonesia has renewed efforts to prevent fires, although a state of emergency was declared last month in Riau province over forest and land fires.

The economic impact of haze pollution here has been estimated using cost-benefit analysis before, but the researchers said that the figures could be an under-estimate because they exclude impacts — such as non-hospitalisable health effects — that are difficult to infer from economic data.

The 2015 haze episode was estimated to have cost Singapore S$700 million (RM2.19 billion) in losses.

The NUS researchers surveyed 390 people in public areas from November 2015 to February 2016 on their willingness to pay, should the Singapore Government be able to guarantee good air quality year-round.

The participants, from various age and income groups, were given options ranging from 0.05 per cent to 5 per cent of their annual income, after they indicated if they were willing to support such a haze mitigation fund.

The average person’s willingness to pay was an estimated 0.97 per cent of his/her annual income.

However, about three in 10 respondents were unwilling to pay even the minimum option of 0.05 per cent of their annual income.

Wijedasa said that one of the solutions proposed for the haze problem is payments for ecosystem services.

“This could take the form of richer nations aiding better land management and restoration by making regular payments.

“Indonesia has estimated that it needs US$2.1 billion to help restore two million hectares of peatland in (the country). They have currently only received US$50 million from Norway and US$17 million from the United States.

“Could this shortfall be filled by Singapore (and other countries in the region)?”

Tan Yi Han, who is not involved in the study and is co-founder of non-governmental organisation People’s Movement to Stop Haze, said that the findings are helpful and “should motivate the Singapore Government to spend on measures to prevent haze, such as a subsidy on certified sustainable palm oil, as well as aid to support peat restoration and protection efforts in Indonesia”.

His organisation’s survey last year found that more than nine in 10 respondents were willing to pay more for certified sustainable products to help mitigate the haze, Tan said.

Most were willing to pay 5 to 10 per cent more.

Consumers game to chip in to avoid any haze include Steven Lim, who is in his 40s and self-employed. How much he is willing to contribute would depend on the amount needed to make an impact.

“Maybe S$10? Multiplied by many individuals, it would be a lot,” Lim said, preferring that the money goes to the Indonesian government.

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El capitán del primer batallón de la Unidad Militar de Emergencias (UME), Emilio Arias, ha descrito como “dantescos” los efectos del incendio forestal en el paraje natural de la Sierra de Gata (Cáceres), aunque ha sido optimista en cuanto a su extinción al darse una situación “bastante favorable” en estos momentos. Fotogalería ALCALDE 11 Fotos La Sierra de Gata, tras el incendio “El incendio se dio por estabilizado y ahora mismo sólo hay pequeños focos que se reactivan por lo que la situación es bastante adecuada para intentar extinguir el fuego”, ha explicado Arias en una entrevista en COPE. Arias ha descrito como “dantesco” el efecto del fuego en una zona “donde el terreno era precioso”. El mando único del Plan Director del Infoex decidía este lunes mantener activo el Nivel 2 de peligrosidad en el incendio de Sierra de Gata ante las previsiones de viento y altas temperaturas. Las mismas predicciones indican que habrá una mejoría a partir de las primeras horas de la noche del lunes, según ha informado la Junta de Extremadura. Más de 200 efectivos se mantienen en la zona. Intentar llegar a la normalidad es “un tanto difícil”, y que ahora hay que hacer valoraciones de los daños El incendio declarado el pasado jueves ha arrasado unas 7.500 hectáreas de alto valor agrícola, ambiental y paisajístico, de ahí que el Gobierno regional haya iniciado ya la evaluación de los daños y comenzado a preparar la recuperación de la zona. El director general de Medio Ambiente, Pedro Muñoz, ha afirmado que el incendio ha causado un “desastre” desde el punto de vista medioambiental ya que ha arrasado miles de hectáreas de pinar, olivar y pastos, además de haber producido cuantiosos daños materiales en algunas poblaciones. La asociación conservacionista SEO/Birdlife ha denunciado que el incendio afectó gravemente a especies amenazadas y a espacios protegidos de la Red Natura 2000, incluidos robledales, madroñales y castañares centenarios. Todo el área afectada es una zona ornitólogica de interés mundial. Por su parte, el alcalde de la localidad cacereña de Hoyos, Óscar Antúnez, ha alabado la participación ciudadana en el municipio para ayudar a los operarios del plan Infoex como “lo bonito dentro de la tragedia” y ha añadido que el “sentir general” de los ciudadanos de Sierra de Gata es de “frustración e indignación” tras el incendio forestal. El alcalde ha señalado que ha podido hablar con los vecinos de la localidad y que los “más afectados” son los que han perdido fincas o casas de campo, sobre todo una familia que ha perdido su domicilio de vacaciones habitual, que era una casa “recién reformada”. Asimismo, Óscar Antúnez ha indicado que intentar llegar a la normalidad es “un tanto difícil”, y que ahora hay que hacer valoraciones de los daños, tanto la Mancomunidad de Municipios de Sierra de Gata como la Junta de Extremadura, para ver qué ayudas se pueden proporcionar y de qué modo, además de cuáles serán los medios disponibles. Por último, el primer edil de Hoyos ha explicado que los vecinos, “más allá de la lamentación”, deben intentar hacer “una vida normal”, aunque ha considerado que es muy difícil “dado el paisaje que tenemos”, ya que casi el 90% del término municipal está calcinado, ha indicado.

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