Anyone with experience in forest fire prevention?

Hi folks,

In the past few weeks we (at Farmers for Forests) have been witnessing a lot of forest fires in the areas where we work (Raigad and Gadchiroli). It’s pretty devastating to watch and we’re looking at ways of addressing the problem for next year’s fire season (March - May 2022), since it’s probably too late to do anything meaningful this year.

Rough estimates are that nearly 5-15% of the forest in our work areas is destroyed every year because of these fires. Some background on the situation from having some preliminary conversations in the communities and with forest department officials:

  • Most of these fires are not scientifically planned fires done for the purposes of forest management and to increase growth of new trees and vegetation
  • Most of the fires have anthropogenic causes (either intentional or unintentional)
  • Intentional causes include better harvest for tendu patta leaves, ability to see mahua flowers easily on the burned forest flower, land clearance for agriculture, game meat hunting, etc
  • Unintentional causes include smoking, cooking, etc
  • Detection of the fires is usually not a problem - the forest department has a remote sensing mechanism in place to do this and communities often know where exactly their forests are burning - putting out the fires has been problematic
  • Communities and the forest department work to put these fires out but often (1) the scale of the fires becomes too large quickly (2) the fires are in hard to reach places (like the top of hills, remote jungle areas or places where the terrain impedes easy access) (3) they lack the necessary infrastructure to be able to do this as effectively as they would like

Give this situation, we are:

  • Hoping to connect with someone who has experience in forest fire management and prevention
  • Hoping to crowd source solutions for what can be done in conjunction with forest dependant communities to reduce fire related forest loss in the next season. Some preliminary ideas we’re working on developing and need help with are (1) alternative harvesting techniques for tendu patta and mahua (2) collection of forest litter or ways to speed up forest litter decomposition (through addition of microbial cultures or other ways?)

If anyone has any other ideas or can connect us with someone they know working in this area - we’d be tremendously grateful! Thanks for reading!

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We have had the same issues around at the Tamarind Valley Collective farm, and now in the forest around the Rainmatter farm. At TVC we’ve created fire-lines before this season every year - it’s a lot of effort. Have reached out to a few folks for solutions and ideas.

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In few areas we have used local community who look after forest. Like establishing Eco development society whose members can regularly monitor forest areas and help in controlling forest fire.

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Forest fires are primarily social issues. Lighting fires in forest is done for host of purposes.I have worked here with forest department and forest fringe villagers for about three years on ground. It’s three pronged approach.

1)It is lack of awareness or sensitivity to negative effects of forest fires is main cause. To address this we do a host of outreach and awareness programs like educative posters about fires, street plays, programs and workshops to school children, youth and village heads.

  1. Identifying sensitive areas prone to forest fires and focus heavily on these areas with on ground works like firelines, Patrolling and personel sitting on cliffs and maintain vigil.

3)Quick response team mostly tribals who are well adept in jungle and skilled in extinguishing fire.These teams are deployed every 10 to 15sq kms.

Again these broad guidelines. Needs to be tailored to each site. If the landscape you are referring to is huge. Identify one piece may be 5 or 10 sq kms and get started.

I would be happy to help and assist in charting out a holistic plan.

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No practical experience with this but someone shared this on fb :

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Thank you for the responses everyone!

@sameershisodia and @PraveenRam - if you have any material on best practices to follow while developing fire-lines, do share. We’ve never worked on fire-lines before so any and all information will be useful :slight_smile:

These folks might know. Also - they need help in your area - can you help mobilize some volunteers?

https://www.facebook.com/bharat.mansata/posts/10226066843480861

@sameershisodia - sure! thanks for brining this to our attention!

Could we collectively develop an easy to understand manual for forest fire prevention? Can be a 1-2 pager with just simple steps and easy to understand measures that can be undertaken. Thoughts @Krutika?

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Hi
Recently came across the work that Thambor Lyngdoh has been doing in Meghalaya on building capacity and training first responders to control forest fires.

In most cases fires are setup intentionally by creating forest fire lines but they do go out of control, sometimes it’s just utter carelessness

Thambor believes that quick responders can reduce the intensity and that’s why he has been training locals and encouraging them to volunteer

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Possible to share a playbook - set of steps and learnings - from their experience?

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Will check. Also need to connect you guys to him @sameershisodia

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@Pai - yes a manual would be tremendously useful. We haven’t implemented any on-ground programs in fire prevention yet, but will document our learnings and best practices as we go along. In the meanwhile if anyone who’s done this work can share their learnings, would be super helpful.

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Will take help from @sameershisodia and start an email thread to facilitate this conversation with people working in this space. Let’s plan and draft this right away. :slight_smile:

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@PraveenRam has done a lot - can you help create a manual/playbook on this?

While we hear from Tambor,

Here are some videos i just got in a whatsapp group

https://fb.me/e/24A2DaHqu?ti=wa

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From the Lamkani grassland restoration article shared in another thread :smiley:

Grasslands have historically been associated with forest fires, and in Lamkani too, forest fires are not an uncommon occurrence. Two main roads lead to the hillock and fires are spotted easily from the village. The young people of Lamkani have formed a WhatsApp group where news of forest fires is shared and help is arranged to control the fire. “Every year, we make ‘fire lines’ on the hillock to prevent the spread of fires, but with a grassland habitat, fires are inevitable. To ensure that the damage is contained soon, every resident of Lamkani helps. I have seen young as well as old people run to stop the fires,” shares Shelar.