“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect ” – Aldo Leopold
The images of Australian bush fire is still fresh in people’s minds across the world. The tragedy led to a loss of insurmountable flora and fauna. Over 30,000 forest fires were recorded last year in India itself, and most of these forest fires account to human activity. It’s a strange reality where several conventions have taken place from the 1970s, beginning with United Nations conference on the human environment, often known as Stockholm conference, it was for the first time that the world began to take a serious interest in environmental issues at large, however, even after 50 years of the first initiate in the form of Stockholm conference our world is battling with shifts in weather patterns driven by humans since the industrial revolution. Let’s take a look to understand what causes forest fires.
What causes forest fires?
Forest fire is the most common source of potential damage or hazard to Forests all over the world. They threaten not only the forest but the ecosystem that exists in it they are capable of destroying the balance that exists in the ecology of the forest ( flora and fauna). The gradual deterioration of functional characteristics of leaves due to no rains in summers often leads to flames which are caused by the slightest sparks The Himalayan forests, particularly, Garhwal Himalayas are burning regularly during a previous couple of summers, with colossal loss of vegetation cover of that region.
Do forest fires have only natural causes?
There are both man-made and natural reasons as to why the forests are burning around the world during recent times. Natural reasons vary from lightning which sets trees on fires to high atmospheric temperatures and dryness with less or no humidity which lead to favourable circumstances of forest fires. Main reasons range from cigarettes, bidi, lighter or any such item coming in contact with any inflammable material which may be present in the ecosystem. Forest fires increase CO2 levels within the atmosphere, contributing to the atmospheric phenomenon and global climate change. Besides, ashes destroy much of the nutrients and erode the soil, causing flooding and landslides. We can say that causes of forest fires could either be environmental which is beyond our control and human-related which can be controlled or contained. The causes of man-made forest fires are usually – The main causes of man-made forest fires include the following:
1) Agricultural activities like burning grass or stubble.
2) Throwing of burning cigarettes or matches.
3) The lighting of fires in restricted areas.
4) Residential activities like the use of electrical tools that cause sparks and burn of wastes.
5) Short-circuit of power lines passing through forests, among others.
But how do we prevent forest fires?
Forest fires as we discussed are both dangerous and threatening to both us and the wildlife around us. We live in equilibrium with the wildlife in this world our mere existence is supported by the pillars of the ecosystem that we are a part of so preventing things such as forest fires that threaten the destruction to both flora fauna is our duty. One of the easy ways in which we can prevent it is by complying with the rules and regulations that exist to safeguard our forests Many municipalities have laws governing burning of all kinds including the time of day, time of year, and what substances can be burned, by following these rules we can reduce man-made fires also if we are on a camping trip we can check the weather it is never a good idea to engage in any type of burning if there are high winds. Wind can act as both an accelerant and may spread the hearth. Smoking in the woods may be appealing to the larger section of our society that favours camping trips but we should keep in mind that we have to carefully extinguish any smoking materials that are on us. We must not burn dangerous things like aerosol cans, pressurised containers, glass or aluminium cans, as they could explode, shatter and/or create harmful fumes or dust. Wildfire prevention techniques are often difficult when most of the people do not realise the harm involved. Fireworks and crackers should also never be used unless there is a wide-open space with no flammable materials nearby. Also, ask your local ordinances as many restrict fireworks altogether. We must also follow state laws and city ordinances regarding backyard burn disposal, remove any potentially hazardous material from the surrounding area of your burn before you get started and set up a non-flammable parameter the same way you would with a campfire.
We are at a turning point in our century, we cannot afford to see our ecosystem get destroyed by anthropogenic causes, what we need to do is, focus on is sustainable development that does not take away the resources of the future generations, we must keep the upkeep of our ecosystem as our top priority and work together as a community and to look after our forests, we must educate our children about the benefits of forests and wildlife and the role it plays to maintain our ecological cycle. At the end of the day, the world is a global village and we cannot look away from it.