Friday, July 19, 2024
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Study finds half of state’s green cover highly prone to forest fires

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SHILLONG, June 19: An estimated 49% of Meghalaya’s total forest cover is highly prone to forest fire with the West Khasi Hills district accounting for the highest burnt area throughout the year, revealed the Fire Prone analysis report.
The figures are 10% higher than the national figures as estimated by the Forest Survey of India.
According to the report, Mawshynrut in West Khasi Hills district is the most affected Block in the state having the highest burnt area.
Ri-Bhoi district has the maximum area under extreme fire i.e. 50% (1,068.72 sq km) of the total forest cover of the district. Among the Blocks, Rongjeng Block in East Garo Hills district has been found to have 74.3% of forest cover under very high fire-prone.
Forest fire is one of the major threats to the state’s rich floral and faunal wealth. Large tracts of forests are burnt every year due to forest fires.
The Meghalaya Forest Fire Information System (MeFFIS) dashboard has been developed as a single-point source of information for the decision-makers to monitor and assess real-time and past forest fires in the entire state.
Addressing a gathering on Wednesday after releasing some research publications, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma underscored the need for accurate data to guide forest fire management effectively in light of the fire prone analysis report suggesting that around 49% of the state’s forest areas are highly vulnerable in terms of forest fire.
“Without proper research or a detailed study, we will not be able to take proper decisions. Therefore, research is very important. In all aspects of governance, we have laid stress on data-driven decision-making,” the CM said.
He said the research touched on different aspects and it will allow studying the different aspects of the sacred groves to be able to assess and see the future.
“It is only based on documentation and research that we are able to take more concrete decisions and policy-making. In the future, apart from the research which we are doing, what is important is to link the different researches and allow the data analytics to be able to create predictability models to know how to deal with any particular trend,” Sangma said.
According to him, the different research publications have touched important aspects of forest in Meghalaya like Sacred Groves, life cycle of pines, classification of trees etc and the research will help assess the present and plan the future.
The publications released by him include Rotation Age and Volume Estimation of Khasi Pine in Meghalaya (Volume-l), Forest Inventory of Sacred Groves in Meghalaya (Volume-III) and Geospatial Mapping of Forest Fire Vulnerable and Forest Fire Prone Areas in Meghalaya.
It may be mentioned that the state government has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Forest and Environment for a financial assistance of Rs 24.74 crore under the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change to ensure conservation and enhance resilience of Sacred Groves.
Forest fire info app launched
The chief minister laso launched the Meghalaya Forest Fire Information System app.
The application can be downloaded from the Google Play Store by any individual to upload forest fire-related information in Meghalaya.
By downloading the app, people can get information about any fire incident from their phones.
The app has a facility to capture photos of forest fire incidents anywhere in Meghalaya and upload information such as the nature of the fire, whether or not it is due to jhum cultivation, whether a patch has burnt for the first time or experienced repeated forest fire, and whether it has occurred in a bamboo grove or plantation or any other area.
The fire information can be uploaded by individuals in either English or any of the local languages such as Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia spoken in Meghalaya.
The system has been developed by using the satellite-based forest fire incident data available from the Forest Survey of India, Dehradun. The dashboard allows one to observe forest fire incidents in various administrative and forest management units, protected areas, eco-sensitive zones, districts, blocks, or at the village level by selecting the desired area during any period of interest.
The dashboard is available to any interested user at the Meghalaya Forest and Environment Department official website, megforest.gov.in.

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