Daily News Analysis » March 2024 » Increasing Forest Fires in Southern India: 19 Mar 2024

Increasing Forest Fires in Southern India: 19 Mar 2024

  • Forest Fires in India:

    • Forest fire season: November to June, with peak activity in April-May.
    • 36% of India’s forest cover is prone to fires, with 4% extremely prone (ISFR 2019).
    • Northeast India, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand are most vulnerable.

    2023 Forest Fire Situation:

    • Highest reports from Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, and Maharashtra.
    • Uptick is observed in Maharashtra’s Konkan belt, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand.
    • Southern states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu also affected.
    • Contributory Factors for 2023 Fires in South India:
      • Exceptional heat in February, hottest since 1901.
      • Early availability of dry biomass due to above-normal temperatures in the past two months.
      • Early onset of summer conditions.
      • Excess Heat Factor (EHF) predictions indicate higher heatwave chances in western Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
      • High temperatures (up to 40 degrees Celsius) in mid-March are unusual.
      • Most southern districts are classified under ‘mild’ aridity due to lack of rain and high temperatures.

    Impact and Prevention:

    • Forest fires have devastating effects on biodiversity, air quality, and local climates.
    • Preventive measures include stricter regulation on activities that could ignite fires and improved forest management practices to reduce vulnerability.

    Why in News:

    • South India’s forests are usually less vulnerable due to predominant evergreen or semi-evergreen vegetation. However, recent years saw increased wildfires in Tamil Nadu.