Forest fire a growing concern for Nagaland
Our Spl Correspondent
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 26: Overall, the 8 Northeastern States lost 1,020 sq km in forest cover during 2019-2021 though the total forest and tree cover in India in 2021 increased by 2,261 sq km to 80.9 million hectares.
The Forest Survey of India’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) detected 1,248 forest fires in Nagaland from November 2019-June 2020.
It further increased to 1,726 from November 2020 to June 2021, the report said.
The report was released by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav in New Delhi recently.
The loss of forest cover in the Northeastern States is of concern as this region has been the repository of great biodiversity.
Natural calamities may have led to much of the loss, the declining forests will in turn increase the impact of landslides, experts say.
It will also impact water catchment in the region, which is already seeing degradation of its water resources.
There is also a school of thought that says unlike other States, where forests are clearly managed by the Forest Department and State Governments, the Northeastern States follow a different ownership pattern – community ownership and protected tribal land.
Another survey detected 2905 fire incidents in Nagaland from November 2019-June 2020, which later increased to 4,975 from November 2020 to June 2021.
During the assessed period, there was a major fire at Dzükou valley which lasted from the last week of December 2020 to the second week of January 2021. The valley is prone to annual forest fires.
On January 7, 2021, another major forest fire occurred at a hillock near St Joseph College, Jakhama.
Nagaland’s Fire & Emergency Services also informed that its personnel in Noklak, Dimapur and Kohima averted major jungle fires in 3 separate incidents on March 1, 2021.
The Northeastern States of India ~ Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim ~ have lost 1,020 square kilometres of forest during 2019-2021.
The 8 States account for 23.75% of the country’s total forest cover.
Among the 8 States, Manipur recorded the largest loss in forest cover (249 sq kms), followed by
Nagaland (235 sq kms) and Mizoram (186 sq kms).
The report attributes this loss in forest cover to shifting cultivation, which is still practiced in many Northeastern states.