Forest Fire


Forest fires have been burning in the Coonoor forest range in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, for the past week.

  • Recently, the Indian Air Force joined the firefighting efforts led by the state forest department.
  • The IAF deployed an Mi-17 V5 helicopter to perform numerous Bambi Bucket operations, dropping approximately 16,000 litres of water onto the fires.


GS-03 (Conservation)

Forest fire:

  • A wildfire, forest fire, bushfire, wildland fire or rural fire is an unplanned, uncontrolled and unpredictable fire in an area of combustible vegetation.
  • Causes:
    • Natural due to lightning, high atmospheric temperatures and low humidity (dryness)
    • Man-made: Practices like Jhum cultivation that involves clearing land of vegetation, burning it, and then cultivating it for a period of time or sometimes cigarette, bidi, etc.
  • Applications:
    • Some natural forest ecosystems depend on wildfire.
    • Controlled or prescribed burning: Wildfires which are beneficial human usage of wildland fire is called Controlled or prescribed burning.
    • Modern forest management often engages in prescribed burns to mitigate risk and promote natural forest cycles.
  • Types:
    • Surface Fire: Forest fires can start and spread along the ground, fueled by surface litter like dry leaves, twigs, and grasses.
    • Controlled Deliberate Fires: Forest management agencies may intentionally set prescribed burns to reduce fuel loads and prevent uncontrolled wildfires, promoting ecosystem health. These burns are carefully planned and executed to minimize risks and benefit the forest ecosystem.
    • Underground Fire/Zombie Fire: These low-intensity fires burn beneath the surface, consuming organic matter and forest litter. They can smolder for months, destroying vegetation.
    • Canopy or Crown Fires: These fires spread through the upper canopy of trees, often driven by strong winds and dry conditions, posing significant challenges to control.

Facts for prelims:

  • Excess Heat Factor (EHF): The Excess Heat Factor (EHF) is a metric for measuring the intensity of heat waves and categorizing their severity
  • Nilgiris:
    • The Nilgiris region extends across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala, forming part of the Western Ghats mountain range.
    • Doddabetta is the highest peak in the Nilgiri mountains with an altitude of approximately 2,637 meters.
    • It houses famous hill stations such as Ooty, Coonoor, and Kotagiri.
  • Government Initiatives for forest fires:
    • National Action Plan for Forest Fires (NAPFF)
    • The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM)