Forest fires in Uttarakhand have damaged a total of 183.35 hectares of forest area so far this season, according to media reports. The state has witnessed 120 incidents of forest fire this season, with 62 incidents reported in Garhwal affecting 91.53 hectares of forest area, 44 incidents in Kumaon damaging 55.30 hectares of forest area and 14 incidents in wildlife sanctuaries causing damage to 36.52 hectares of forest area.
Officials from the Forest Fire and Disaster Management Department have pointed to changing weather patterns as the main reason for the increase in forest fires. The rising temperature due to climate change has increased the risk of forest fires in the state, with the summer months from March to June being the most vulnerable period. The dry environment, coupled with less rainfall, has led to forest fires spreading rapidly, causing significant damage to the forest ecosystem.
Forest fires have been a recurring problem in Uttarakhand, with incidents of fire increasing in winters in recent years due to irregular rainfall patterns. The state government has been taking measures to prevent forest fires, including creating fire lines, setting up watchtowers and deploying teams of firefighters to tackle incidents of forest fires.
Forest fires are a serious concern as they not only cause damage to the forest ecosystem but also pose a threat to wildlife and human settlements nearby. The smoke from forest fires can cause respiratory problems and worsen air quality in the region. The loss of forest cover also leads to soil erosion and affects the water cycle, impacting the availability of water in the region.
The Forest Fire and Disaster Management Department has advised caution to people living near forest areas and tourists visiting the region. They have urged people to avoid smoking in forest areas, not to light fires in open areas, and to report any incidents of fire immediately to the authorities. The department has also asked people to follow safety guidelines and cooperate with the forest department officials in their efforts to prevent forest fires.