Forest department’s fire mapping system: A Game-Changer in the battle against forest fires, declares HP CM

Shimla, May 30

The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu has announced the implementation of a fire mapping system by the Forest Department to effectively control forest fires in the state. Himachal Pradesh is known for its abundant forest wealth, which constitutes 68.16 percent of the total geographical area of the state. These forests are not only rich in biodiversity but also crucial for protecting the fragile Himalayan ecosystem. The sustainable management and conservation of this natural resource is a collective responsibility.

Forest fires have been a major concern for officials and citizens alike, as they pose a threat to the state’s environment, ecology, and economy. Many families depend on the forests for their livelihood, including food, fuel, and fodder. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the state government is undertaking comprehensive measures to improve the forest fire management strategy.

Despite the relatively mild summer this year due to changing weather conditions, critical elements of forest fire management have been impacted. These include strategic fire stations, coordination among various departments, funding, human resource development, fire research, and extension programs. The government is placing special emphasis on addressing these issues.

Also read:Forest fire increases to 900 in HP as dept too, fails in achieving working-plan for controlled burning

To effectively control forest fires, Chief Minister Thakur Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu emphasized the need to identify sensitive forest areas. This involves establishing mutual coordination with Panchayats (local self-government institutions) and local communities and launching awareness campaigns. Forest fires, although a natural phenomenon in some ecosystems can become more severe and widespread in certain years. Therefore, it is crucial to engage with local people, Panchayats, school children, and raise awareness about the damage caused by forest fires to forest resources, wildlife, and the environment.

The Forest Department has prepared maps for sensitive forests, identifying areas prone to forest fires and linking them to control points. Additionally, virtual meetings are being conducted between Forest Department officials, field officers, and elected representatives of the Panchayats to address the issue.

While natural causes such as lightning can initiate tree fires that spread through wind, it is vital to control human-induced forest fires. Mass awareness campaigns, particularly in rural areas, are of utmost importance. The involvement of elected representatives from local bodies can significantly contribute to this effort.

To tackle forest fires swiftly, the Forest Department has established a Rapid Fire Action Team. In case of a forest fire, this team will notify the department through WhatsApp. Local communities are being sensitized about the adverse effects of forest fires and their role in responding to fire incidents.

The state government is fully committed to conserving the valuable forest wealth of Himachal Pradesh. Alongside scientific management, substantial efforts are being made to ensure public participation in this endeavor, he concluded.


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