‘Weather’ behind fewer wildfire cases in March

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
‘Weather’ behind fewer wildfire cases in March

Mar 21, 2015-

Unlike the past years, the number of wildfires has been on decline in the peak months-March and April-this year, thanks to the weather-induced temporary lull. The number of wildfire instances which once ranged around average 200 within 24 hours in 2009 in these two months is now around 12 on average in the same period until the third week of March. Experts, however, point that this shouldn’t be considered as a long-term downturn as wildfires are still threatening forests and adjoining communities as preparedness on mitigating them is still a daunting task to the stakeholders concerned.

Normally, forest fires occur during the pre-monsoon dry season from as early as February to May and around 60 percent of them occur in March and April in the country. “The temperature has not risen significantly during this period making the forests less susceptible to fires,” said Sundar Sharma, coordinator of the UNISDR-Regional South Asia Wildland Fire Network. He, however, said the month of April when the temperature gradually increases is still yet to come.

In 2009, the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration listed Nepal as a country “most vulnerable to wildfires” with the highest number of forest fires in a day-358 on April 25. In the wake of a series of devastating wildfires, the government in 2010 came up with the Forest Fire Management Strategy but has failed to devise a plan to implement it. The fires killed 49, 9, 1 and 2 people in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.

There have been some positive interventions and efforts from the government to address the growing threats of wildfires on forests and people. The latest Forest Policy released early this year has integrated policies on the matter to minimise the risks and prepare the communities to combat wildfires. The Policy has mentioned various interventions such as establishment and mobilisation of multi-stakeholders participatory mechanisms to control forest fires, use of recent scientific technology, people’s participation to implement preventive and control measures, effective implementation of existing  Forest Fire Management Strategy 2010 and provision of reliable professional security, insurance and other benefits to those involved in fighting fire.

Published: 22-03-2015 07:56

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