Wildfire spreading at several community forests in Chure region

- DILLIRAM KHATIWADA, UDAYPUR

Mar 22, 2019-

Forest fires have destroyed vegetations and affected wildlife habitat across several community forests of the Chure region in Udayapur for the past week, raising concerns among the locals in the district.

The fire that broke out in more than one and a half dozen community forests in Katari, Tiryuga and Chaudandigadhi municipalities poses a risk to the settlements near the forest. Locals are worried as their efforts, and that of the authorities, to contain the inferno have so far remained unsuccessful.

According to the Division Forest Office, wild fires also broke out in Suryodaya, Nageshwor, Churiya, Rajadevi, Lathibaiki, Kakani, Shihikhola, Raktamala, among other forest areas of Triyuga.

The District Administration Office said that it had taken initiatives to contain the spreading fire. Personnel from the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force, and fire engines from Katari, Triyuga and Chaudandigadhi have been kept on high alert in case the fires spread to nearby human settlements.

“Dozens of human settlements will be at risk if we fail to control the fires soon,” said Nara Bahadur Khadka, a member of the Federation of Community Forest Users’ Group.

According to the Division Forest Office in Tribeni, the community forest users groups, forest employees and the local people are working together to control the fire by using fire engines in some areas, but the wildfire continues in the remote parts. The forest office said the fire has spread in about 150 hectares of forest land.

Wildfires had destroyed about 7,000 hectares of forestland in Udayapur last year.

Similarly, a raging fire has been spreading in the Chure forest south of Chaudandigadhi Municipality for the past few days. Dev Narayan Chaudhary, the ward chairman of Chaudandigadhi-5, said the fire broke out in Sundarpur, Hadiya and Shiwai, among other places.  

“The forest employees and the local people have been mobilised to control the fire. The fire will certainly cause a major damage to the wildlife and human settlements if it’s not brought under control soon,” said Chaudhary.

The bush fires destroyed Shavari (Asparagus racemosus), medicinal herbs worth thousands of rupees, in the area. Wild animals and birds have migrated to the edge of the forests and locals worry that they may soon find their way into human settlements. The forest employees are worried about possible poaching of those animals and birds as they move towards human settlements in search of food and water.  

Forest fires are rampant every year in the dry season. The local people have time and again filed complaints with the authorities to take concrete measures to mitigate the risk of wildfires before the dry season advances, but every year their concerns fall on deaf ears. “The fire has further compounded the deforestation in the Chure region,” said Sarita Khadka of Triyuga. She claimed that the incidents of forest fire are on the rise because of human negligence, adding that the consumer committees have failed to take stringent action against those starting a fire. Most forest fires are caused by lit cigarette stubs thrown carelessly on the dry forest floor or due to a failure to douse a fire completely after igniting one.

Published: 22-03-2019 10:44

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