• Forest fires are a recurrent phenomenon in India, particularly during the summer months.
  • Severe fires predominantly occur in dry deciduous forests, while evergreen, semi-evergreen, and montane temperate forests are comparatively less affected.
  • Every year, valuable forest resources, including carbon stored in biomass, are lost due to forest fires, negatively impacting the flow of goods and services from forests.
  • The use of satellite-based remote sensing technology and GIS tools has significantly improved the prevention and management of forest fires by providing early warnings, real-time monitoring, and estimation of burnt areas.


Frequency of Forest Fires in India

  • The forest fire season in India spans from November to June.
  • Several factors contribute to the frequency and scale of forest fires, including temperature, precipitation, vegetation, and moisture levels. Dry leaves often act as fuel for these fires.
  • Approximately 4% of the country’s forest cover is extremely prone to fire, with another 6% being very highly fire-prone (ISFR 2019).
  • According to the ISFR 2021, northeastern states exhibit the highest tendency for forest fires, while parts of western Maharashtra, southern
  • Chhattisgarh, central Odisha, and regions in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka also show patches of extremely and very highly fire-prone zones.

Role of Climate Change in Forest Fires

  • While many fires are man-made, resulting from changes in agriculture and unchecked land-use patterns, climate change exacerbates the problem.
  • The forest department has identified four primary causes of wildfires in Uttarakhand: deliberate fires set by locals, carelessness, farming-related activities, and natural causes.
  • Rising temperatures have led to more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires globally.
  • Climate patterns like El Niño and La Niña, which are affected by climate change, also contribute to the occurrence of forest fires.
  • Extreme heat increases the likelihood of wildfires and extends the wildfire season by causing more moisture to evaporate from the land.


For instance, helicopters equipped with “Bambi Buckets” have been used to collect water from nearby lakes like Bhimtal in Nainital to combat burning forests.

A government report indicates that locals often set forests on fire for purposes such as promoting the growth of quality grass, covering up illegal logging activities, and aiding in poaching efforts.

By addressing both human and climate-related factors, comprehensive strategies can be developed to mitigate the risk and impact of forest fires in India.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 1, 2024