In depth: Why Simlipal Reserve fire is a matter of concern
A lot had been written about the Amazon and California wildfires last year but there’s another fire raging at home too. And it’s only now that the administration has come into action. It’s been more than 10 days that a fire has been raging at Simlipal Forest Reserve and has gutted a major part of the area.
Simlipal Forest Reserve, also known as Simlipal Tiger Reserve, was declared a biosphere in 1994, and lies in the eastern end of the eastern ghat. It is the abode of 94 species of orchids and about 3,000 species of plants. The identified species of fauna include 12 species of amphibians, 29 species of reptiles, 264 species of birds and 42 species of mammals, all of which collectively highlight the biodiversity richness of Similipal. The most dominant tree species is Sal.
The fire at the reserve
The forest area often witnessed fires in the dry season but the recent fire which started in the last week of February is still raging. It is known that a total of 399 fire points have been identified in the fringe areas bordering the forest, close to the villages. The fires are a recurrent annual phenomenon, but are also brought under control due to short periods of precipitation. The months of January and February witness mild rainfall and fires are doused. The last incident of a major forest fire was reported in 2015.
The causes of fire
Just like fires in any dry forest, like the Amazon and California, Simlipal is also prone to fire due to weather. Dry leaves and stumps can catch fire even due to lightning. And such fires are doused automatically by rainfall. However, a lot of fires in such areas are man-made. Villagers try to clear the forest for their use by putting fire on trees and trunks, and that can aggravate the fire. Deforestation is a threat to a lot of reserves all over the world.
Though the fire is doused naturally, many times it may take man-made efforts to curb the blaze. Firefighters are employed and many times water planes are also used to put water in the zone.