In a first, Uttarakhand deploys drones to monitor forest fires
In a first, the Uttarakhand Forest Department has deployed three drones for real-time monitoring of the forest fires. This is the first time that drones are used to monitor forest fires in India. Besides monitoring of forest fire, drones are already in use for wildlife conservation for nest status, aviation ethology, crocodile and water birds counting and monitoring.
In India, Uttarakhand faces maximum incidents of forest fires. In 2016, about 2,000 incidents of forest fires destroyed 4,500 hectares of forest land in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand has about 71% of the total geographical area under forest cover. Thus, real time monitoring of forest fires will help in preventing the spread of forest fire. Though, the Forest Department employs both traditional method and modern methods with the help of satellite images, it is difficult to know about the forest fire in the Terai and Bhabar regions. The Terai region consists of fertile lowlands of the southern Himalayan, Shivalik foothills and north of Indo-Gangetic plains and the Bhabar region runs parallel to the north side of Terai.
Forest fires in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is known for human-induced forest fires since a long time. In 2016, the pine forests of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh caught fire. Most of the fires in Uttarakhand happen in the Chir pine (Pinus Rroxburghii) forests because leaves of this conifer tree catch fire easily. The forest fires in Uttarakhand have been predominantly intentional for the purpose of collection of forest resources such as resin, sal seeds, honey, timber etc. To collect resin easily, the surface fires are lit so that pine needles can be removed.