INDIA – The Forest department is organising village-level awareness campaigns in the settlements bordering reserve forests in Gudalur to prevent forest fires.
The campaigns, which began after Pongal holidays, are aimed at sensitising local communities, primarily tribal groups and estate workers, to the dangers of forest fires and to prevent them from setting fire to grasslands and forested areas. Officials said that the fires are set by locals so that their cattle would have fresh fodder after a few months. As forest fires would destroy forest cover and put wildlife at risk, Forest officials have launched awareness campaigns in all forest ranges in the Gudalur division.
“We have distributed notices to local communities, urging them to share information about any fires they witness in forest areas, or share information about people who are responsible for starting fires, including tourists,” said a forest department official.
In Gudalur range, awareness campaigns were conducted in three tribal villages so far. Campaigns conducted with the involvement of local communities prior to the peak “fire season” tends to help control the number of forest fires in the division, the officials said.
This year, check dams are being constructed in the Gudalur forest division to provide enough water for wildlife during the lean summer months, so that animals, especially elephants, are not forced into entering towns or settlements in search of food and water, they added.