Mains Practice Question


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What are the reasons for the increase in frequency of forest fires in India? Discuss how climate change adds to the risk of forest fire.


A Simple Introduction about Forest Fires


Forest fires can be triggered by natural phenomena like lightning strikes, as well as human activities such as campfires, agricultural burning, and arson. These fires have far-reaching environmental impacts, including habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and air pollution. They also contribute to climate change by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.


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Causes and Effects of Forest Fires in India

Seasonality and Vulnerable Forest Types

Forest fires are a recurring phenomenon in India, primarily observed during the summer months, lasting from November to June. Dry deciduous forests are particularly susceptible to severe fires, while evergreen, semi-evergreen, and montane temperate forests are comparatively less prone.

Loss of Precious Resources

These fires result in the loss of valuable forest resources, including carbon stored in biomass, impacting the flow of goods and services from forests. Approximately 4% of the country's forest cover is extremely prone to fire, with an additional 6% classified as very highly fire-prone.

Technological Solutions for Prevention and Management

Utilizing satellite-based remote sensing technology and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools has proven effective in preventing and managing forest fires. These tools aid in creating early warnings for fire-prone areas, real-time monitoring of fires, and estimation of burnt scars, facilitating prompt response and mitigation efforts.


Role of Climate Change

Human Activities and Changing Land Use

While natural factors like temperature, precipitation, and vegetation contribute to forest fires, human activities such as changes in agriculture and unchecked land-use patterns play a significant role. Factors like deliberate fires by locals, carelessness, farming-related activities, and natural causes exacerbate the risk of wildfires.

Impact of Climate Change

The increasing temperatures associated with climate change have led to more frequent and intense extreme weather events worldwide, including heat waves, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Patterns of natural climate variability, such as El Niño and La Niña, further contribute to these events, creating conditions conducive to wildfires.

Prolonged Wildfire Seasons

Extreme heat caused by climate change evaporates moisture from the land, creating conditions more prone to wildfires and extending the wildfire season. The longer duration and increased intensity of wildfires pose significant challenges for forest management and conservation efforts.


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Forest fires in India are a complex issue influenced by a combination of natural and human factors, exacerbated by climate change. Implementing proactive measures, utilizing advanced technologies for early detection and response, and addressing the root causes of wildfires are crucial steps in mitigating their adverse impacts and preserving India's rich forest ecosystems.


Other Points to Consider 

ISFR 2021

What is a Bambi bucket?

Efforts which can reduce forest fires



Previous Year Questions

1. Explain the mechanism and occurrence of cloudburst in the context of the Indian subcontinent. Discuss two recent examples. (2022)

2. The frequency of urban floods due to high intensity rainfall is increasing over the years. Discussing the reasons for urban floods, highlight the mechanisms for preparedness to reduce the risk during such events. (2016)


21-May 2024