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Posted at: Jan 22, 2015, 12:13 AM; last updated: Jan 21, 2015, 10:40 PM (IST)

Forest fire issue taken up at symposium

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 21

The issue of forest fires was taken up for deliberations during the international mountain forestry symposium here today.

In the plenary session, speakers expressed concern over the indiscriminate forest fires taking place in Hindukush countries each year.

Experts said forest fires must be looked at in relation to big issues like climate change and desertification. They said despite control measures, the management of forest fires was not up to the mark.

One of the keynote speakers, Dr Alok Saxena of Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had shown concern about fire hazards in high forests of Nepal.

He added that a study by the Forest Survey of India had shown that 2.31 per cent of the forest cover in the country was damaged by fires every year.

Another keynote speaker, Sundar Sharma of the Global Wildland Fire Network, said the loss of biodiversity because of forest fires was a major concern.

He further said trans-boundary fires and smoke pollution were other serious issues that must be regionally addressed.

Dr Neelu Gera of the Forest Research Institute said despite a range of existing control and monitoring measures, countries were still unable to control and manage forest fires.

The experts said fire managers in the mountains faced several challenges because of the region’s topography and limited research.

They said customised maps and forest fire risk maps should be developed for the assessment of zones prone to forest fires.

Lobzang Dorji of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan raised the issue of management of Pinuswallichiana (blue pine) due to forest fires.

Another expert said migration in hilly areas is directly related to the destruction and forest fires were a major cause of degradation.

Other participants said countries should pay special attention to local communities, empower them through capacity building, raise awareness on adaptation livelihoods and step up wild land fire management programmes to offset heat-trapping emission by investing in forests.

They recommended the need to promote communication among forest managers, researchers and those interested and high-priority areas should be identified through national and local planning systems.

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