Fire Free Forest collective gets into the act to tackle raging wildfires

14 January 2020

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INDIA – KOZHIKODE: Greens, voluntary citizens’ groups and individuals who fought forest fires across the state have formed a collective called Fire Free Forest (FFF) to create awareness on forest fire as well as put the issue in the public domain of environmental conservation. Thirty-eight fire incidents of large magnitude reported in the state by Forest Survey of India (FSI) in 2019. FFF believes that it is high time to wake up to the escalating forest fire here in the wake of the infernos that hit Brazil and Australia.

“Last year, forest fires occurred in Munnar, Wayanad, Peppara and Silent Valley burning thousands of hectares of forest land. The issue needs to be addressed in a serious manner. The government has to wake up and the means and ways in which forest fire prevention and control are being implemented have to undergo a big change,” said N Badusha, one of the greens in the forefront of FFF.

According to sources, in Vattavada and Kottakambur areas in Munnar alone, over 1,000 hectares of forest was charred in last March. The collective demanded a comprehensive study into the link between forest fire and recent floods that devastated Kerala.

“The escalation of forest fire has made the dense forest exposed, due to which heavy downpour triggers landslides and soil erosion which in turn result in flood,” Badusha said. The office-bearers of FFF had met forest and wildlife department higher officials and Rebuild Kerala CEO V Venu with a set of demands regarding dousing of forest fire.

T V Sajeev, Principal Scientist, Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), said that linking flood to forest fire is a new argument and it needs to be studied. “It cannot be accepted or denied as such. But the argument that forest fire mishaps have escalated in the state is true,” he said.

Wayanad South Divisional Forest Officer P Renjith Kumar said that Puthumala and Kuricharmala, the two places where landslide and flood were reported in Wayanad never witnessed forest fire. “Such studies were not conducted earlier. Nevertheless, more stress should be given to the issue of forest fire,” he said.

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