From prehistoric times, forests and fire have remained inseparable. The temperate world’s forest ecosystem has been re-generated and rejuvenated with active help of forest fires.
Forest fires have become a major cause of concern because it threatens human habitats and deprives humans from accessing forest resources. Full benefits of forest resources can be obtained only if timber (wood) is protected from fire, diseases and insect pests.
Forest fire can be classified into three categories:
- Natural or controlled forest fire. For example, by lightening striking dry trees.
- Forest fires caused by heat generated in the litter and other biomass in summer and dry season.
- Human negligence. For example, by carelessly dropping lighted matchsticks or cigarette stubs.
Effects of Forest Fire
Fires are a major cause of forest degradation and have wide ranging adverse ecological, economic and social impacts:
- Loss of valuable timber resources, biodiversity and extinction of plants and animals
- Loss of natural vegetation and reduction in forest cover
- Fires may also lead to degradation of catchment areas
- Other environmental impacts of forest fire are global warming, change in the microclimate of the area with unhealthy living conditions
- Soil erosion affecting productivity of soils and depletion of ozone layer
Forest fires are also responsible for loss of livelihood for tribal people and other rural poor.
Preventive Measures and Management
Damage caused due to a forest fire can be controlled by the following means:
- Get dry litter (like dying twigs, leaves) removed during summer season.
- Call a fire brigade, try to put out the fire by spraying water or digging around the fire zone.
- Move farm animals and movable goods to a safe place.
- Do not throw smoldering cigarette or leave burning wood sticks around.
- Do not enter a forest if it is on fire.