• Forest fires are a recurrent phenomenon in India, especially during the summer months.
  • Severe fires primarily occur in dry deciduous forests, while evergreen, semi-evergreen, and montane temperate forests are comparatively less affected.
  • Forest fires result in the loss of valuable forest resources, including carbon stored in biomass, negatively impacting the flow of goods and services from forests.
  • Satellite-based remote sensing technology and GIS tools have been effective in improving the prevention and management of forest fires through early warning systems, real-time monitoring, and assessment 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 scale and frequency of these fires, including temperature, precipitation, vegetation, and moisture levels. Dry leaves serve as fuel for forest fires.
  • Nearly 4% of India’s forest cover is extremely prone to fire, while 6% is classified as very highly fire-prone (ISFR 2019).
  • According to ISFR 2021, northeastern states show the highest tendency for forest fires, with parts of western Maharashtra, southern
  • Chhattisgarh, central Odisha, and regions in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka also exhibiting very high fire-prone zones.

Role of Climate Change in Forest Fires:

  • Although many fires are man-made, often due to agricultural practices and unregulated land-use patterns, climate change exacerbates the risk.
  • The forest department identifies four primary causes of wildfires in Uttarakhand: deliberate fires by locals, carelessness, farming-related activities, and natural reasons.
  • Rising temperatures lead to more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires.
  • Climate change impacts natural climate variability patterns, such as El Niño and La Niña, which contribute to these extreme events.
  • Extreme heat increases wildfire risk and extends wildfire seasons by evaporating more moisture from the land.


For instance, helicopters using “Bambi Buckets” collected water from Bhimtal Lake near Nainital to extinguish forest fires, demonstrating an effective firefighting strategy.

According to a government report, locals often set forests on fire to promote the growth of good quality grass, conceal illegal logging, or for poaching purposes.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 22, 2024