Pre­vent for­est fires

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

For­est fires are con­sid­ered as a ma­jor and per­ma­nent threat for the forests of Bhutan. Ev­ery year, for­est fires cause enor­mous and ir­repara­ble dam­age to for­est ecosys­tems and in some cases threaten res­i­den­tial re­gions. There are many fac­tors that con­trib­ute to an in­creased fire risk in Bhutan are pro­longed win­ter pe­ri­ods, rugged ter­rain with strong winds, the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the ground and the ex­tremely flammable veg­e­ta­tion. The ac­cu­mu­la­tion of biomass due to the aban­don­ment of ru­ral ar­eas and the in­creas­ing tourism and ex­o­dus of ru­ral pop­u­la­tion to the ur­ban ar­eas, are also im­por­tant fac­tors which con­trib­ute to an in­creased fire risk, es­pe­cially dur­ing dry months.

It was just in two days that four for­est fires were recorded in the cap­i­tal only and more than 50 acres of for­est had been dam­age by the fire in th­ese four dif­fer­ent places. The fire above Sa­maz­ingkha’s fire yes­ter­day that broke from a river­side was also con­tained with the aid of he­li­copter, arm forces, De­su­ung, for­est of­fi­cials and vol­un­teers af­ter bat­tling for hours. The po­lice along with their par­ents had ques­tioned the two youths, who are sus­pected to have started the fire. The youth who are un­der 15 years told po­lice that the fire got spread, while they were play­ing with a match­box near the river­side.

We are lucky to have chopper fa­cil­i­ties and other per­son­nel to bat­tle the for­est fire but there are big chances that peo­ple will take ad­van­tages of those fa­cil­i­ties to put off the fires ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively.

Al­though we are lucky to have such fa­cil­i­ties but we also need to give thought for their risk of life as it was re­ported that one per­son was in­jured af­ter fall­ing off a cliff last Fri­day while try­ing to bat­tle the blaze of for­est fire. For­est fire not only de­stroys the forests but also the an­i­mals liv­ing in the forests.

And the set­ting of fire will be very easy but we can­not imag­ine the time taken for the growth of our mother trees and veg­e­ta­tions.

Bhutan for­est cover is set to be 72.5 per­cent of the to­tal area of the coun­try, the long term goals of Bhutan is to main­tain 60 per­cent of the land un­der for­est for all time to come. But if we keep on set­ting of for­est fire please imag­ine that how can we man­age to main­tain with 60 per­cent un­der for­est cover at all times to come.

De­spite of aware­ness be­ing con­ducted on for­est fire, peo­ple have rights on har­vest­ing lemon grass for ex­trac­tion of lemon grass oil and graz­ing rights within govern­ment re­served forests. There­fore, there ex­ists wide­spread prac­tice of burn­ing for­est ar­eas to pro­mote new grass growth for oil and also as cat­tle feed.

With the free­dom given we all must act re­spon­si­bly as for­est fires does more harm than ben­e­fit.

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