This year, the forest department has recorded a reduction in incidents of forest fires as compared to the last few years. According to forest department officials, awareness drives and unseasonal rainfall have contributed significantly to this reduction.
As per the information shared by the forest department, the number of forest fire incidents fell to 42 this summer season in which 90.44 ha of land was affected. By contrast, as many as 112 forest fire incidents were reported in 2020-21 whereas 75 forest fire incidents were reported in 2021-22.
Rahul Patil, deputy conservator of forests, Pune Forest Division, said, “This year, we have observed a drop in forest fire incidents. The loss was assessed in terms of the area affected by the incidents however biodiversity loss was not assessed. There are several reasons for this reduction including unseasonal rainfall during March and April, awareness drives organised by the forest department, and forest lines laid by forest officials.”
The forest department also received firefighting equipment under the DPDC schemes. This equipment was deployed at all forest ranges under the Pune Forest Division and helped with timely response to such incidents.
“We also appointed watchers as well as night patrols in the forest areas. From time to time, updates were taken about forest fire incidents which resulted in reduction in these occurrences,” Patil said.
Another significant factor that contributed to the reduction in incidents of forest fires was unseasonal rainfall. This year, there was continuous rainfall during the months of March and April which brought down the number of forest fire incidents. Even in May, the temperatures were under control and there were no flareups in the forest areas.
Forest fires – caused by both natural and human factors – result in significant damage to biodiversity and dealing with this issue has become a major challenge for the forest department in the past few years. The department has experienced huge losses due to the forest fires.