3 Aug 2020
What is bush fires/forest fire?
- A forest fire/ bush fire is an unclosed freely spreading combustion, which consumes the natural fuels of a forest that consist of duff, grass, weeds, brush and trees.
- It is a natural disaster and poses a threat to the forest wealth, disturbs the biodiversity and ecology of a region.
- Natural fires have been a disturbance of several ecosystems throughout evolution thus plants have adapted to this regime.
- Though man-made fires have also coexisted in equilibrium with ecosystems for centuries, the unmanaged fire caused by stakeholders, has led to adverse consequences for the diversity and structure of forests.
- Incidents of forest fire in recent times:
- El-Nino events and extensive forest fires of Australia in 2010
- Forest fires of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in 2016
- Forest fires of Western Ghats 2015 and 2017
- California forest fire of 2018
- Scandinavian forest fire in summers of 2018
- Amazon forest fire of 2019
- Australian bush fires, 2019-2020
Australian bush fires:
- The wildfires that Australia is experiencing are a result of man-induced global warming.
- More than 5.25 million hectares (13 million acres) of land has been burnt (more than twice the area that burned in the Amazon forest fire of August 2019).
- Australia saw the hottest and driest season in 2019 with the temperature reaching almost 50 degrees celsius in December.
- According to reports over 8,000 koalas, which is approximately 30 percent of the total population in mid-North Coast region have been lost to fire.
- Over 480 million birds, animals and reptiles have already been lost.
Causes for bush fires:
- Lightning which set trees on fire
- High atmospheric temperatures and dryness (low humidity)
- In the dry season, friction leading to sparks by rolling stones in the mountainous areas may lead to forest fires
- In bamboo areas, forest fires may occur by the rubbing together of clumps of dry bamboo.
- Volcanic eruptions
- The presence of El Nino conditions affecting the monsoon movements
- Practice of shifting cultivation
- The use of fires by villagers to ward off wild animals
- Forest fires are started by smugglers and poachers to hide the stumps of illicit felling.
- Gatherers of various forest products start small fires to obtain good grazing grass as well as to facilitate gathering of minor forest produce like flowers of Madhuca indica.
- Accidentally discarded cigarette butts
- Stubble burning – when these fires are not put out completely, it may spread to the adjoining forest areas.