Sunday, 8 May 2016

Forest fires in the Himalayas

Whilst there has been plenty of coverage of the fires in Canada it is very difficult to find any up-to-date coverage of what is an ongoing tragedy

Nepal, northern India battle worst forest fires in years

2 May, 2016

Nepal and parts of northern India are battling their worst forest fires in years that have devastated thousands of hectares of woodland, killed at least 18 people and sent a pall of smoke across the southern Himalayas that can been seen from space.

In Nepal, 11 people have died while trying to fight fires that have razed 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) of forest across the country, the worst in six years.

"This year we have experienced a longer spell of dry weather and the temperatures have risen significantly, contributing to the disaster," Forest Ministry official Krishna Prasad Acharya told Reuters.

The worst forest fires in four years in India's northern Uttarakhand state have killed at least seven people and disrupted the lives of thousands, an emergency official said on Monday.

The Uttarakhand fires have intensified in the past week, torching more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of forest.

Indian Air Force helicopters have been scooping and dumping water from reservoirs in an attempt to douse the flames, but operations were hampered by poor visibility.

A dozen locations, including in Almora, Pauri Garhwal and Chamoli districts, were badly hit, said Anil Shekhawat, a spokesman at the National Disaster Response Force.

"This can be compared with the worst fire of 2012," Indian Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said in New Delhi. Four people had been arrested on suspicion of starting forest fires, he added.

The number of reported forest fires has jumped to 1,689 so far this year in Uttarakhand, compared to 207 for the whole of 2015, according to data from the Forest Survey of India.

Forests cover about a quarter of India's total area.

"The fire is under control and has shown a downward trend in the past two days," said S. Ramaswamy, additional chief secretary of Uttarakhand.

India typically sees a rise in forest fires as temperatures rise from mid-March until the rainy season begins in June.

Wild animals and birds hit hard by wildfires in Nepal

The Himalayan Times
Fri, 06 May 2016 18:28 UTC

A wildfire in Phuljore Jungle of Mahabharat Community Forest

Wildfires, which have spread with the prolonged drought in different community forests, have badly affected wild animals and birds in different national and community forests of the far-west region.

A source in the regional Forest Directorate, Dhangadi, said many wild animals along with different bird species were burnt to death in the forests due to wildfire.

Many animals and birds have scattered and have migrated to safer areas after their habitats were destroyed by wildfires.

It is said wild animals that managed to flee are astray.

Sources in the directorate further added that monkeys, snakes, rabbits, porcupines, deer, wild boars and pheasants were among the wildlife killed due to the inferno.

The sources also said a foul smell had spread from the dead creatures due to lack of proper management.

It is said that the acute water shortage has also hit the wild animals and the birds hard as water sources in the forest areas have also gone dry.

According to Ranger Bisal Kumar Lama of District Forest Office, Bajura,
 the wildfire had spread to as many as 10 national and community forests.

District leader Dhan Raj Pandit of Nepali Congress said a few wild animals and birds were seen in the areas of Martadi-based community forests after the wildfire. 
Similarly, CPN-UML district committee member Dipak Rawat said the incidents of wildfire surpassed that of the past years.

The directorate informed that the wildfire had spread across 72,997 hectare forest areas in the region.

Ranger Lok Raj Dahal of the directorate said
 the wildfire had spread to different national and community forests of nine districts in the far-west region.

The wildfire had spread across 40 hectare forest area in Kailali, 175 hectare in Bajhang, 3,342 hectare in Achham, 1,500 hectare in Baitadi, 9,570 hectare in Kanchanpur, 290 in Bajura, 8,040 in Dadeldhura, 3,130 in Doti.

Similarly, the wildfire destroyed 6,854 hectare forest in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Conservation Centre, 83 hectare in Apinappa Conservation area and six hectare in Khaptad National Park.

The directorate said the wildfire was the biggest in the far-west region so far.

Ranger Lama said that Nepali Army personnel, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and locals have been trying hard to bring the wildfire under control.

Source: Himalayan News Service

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