Bhutan on high alert for forest fires this winter

The risk of forest fire outbreak increases during the dry season, starting from November to May, in Bhutan. Therefore, the Forest Fire Management Section (FFMS), Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS), has put in measures in place to prevent forest fires.

The head of FFMM, Tandin Dorji, said remote sensing and GIS based fire detection and monitoring technology have been installed at the DoFPS. The information obtained through the technology is communicated on to all the dzongkhags, territorial dzongkhag forest officers, park managers and community leader.

Tandin Dorji also said that in schools, the fire lines are constructed along the boundary with the help of the department. Starting last year, school students have been sensitized on the prevention of forest fire during the onset of every forest fire. With such initiative by the schools, there is a decline in the number of fire incidences originating from the carelessness of school children.

The department has also initiated a forest fire volunteer system to prevent forest fires. The volunteer system has more than one thousand members enrolled with the department. The volunteers are actively engaged in pre and post forest fire activities, education of farmers, orchard caretakers and school children on fire prevention.

The increasing number of forest fire volunteers, like the Dessuups and civil servants working in dzongkhags, is expected to help combat forest fire.

As per the statistics maintained by the FFMS, 239 cases of forest fire outbreak has been reported across the country within the span of last six years, destroying unabatedly over more than 44, 934 acres of forests.

The burning of agricultural debris and lemon grass in the chirpine forest causes about 60% of the forest fires. While another 20 % are caused by children playing with ignition materials, roadside workers, picnickers, camp fires, etc. 15 % is caused accidently and 5% through unknown sources.

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