Forest Fires Raging across the Country, with 165 Incidents Reported

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Forest Fires Raging across the Country, with 165 Incidents Reported

May 1: The situation of forest fires is getting worse across the country. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority reports that wildfires are currently taking place at 165 places in 39 districts as of Wednesday.    
With no forecast of immediate rainfall, forest fires are likely to continue further. The Weather Forecasting Division under the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology has said that there will be no rainfall in the next few days that could help control the fire.     
Meteorologist Govind Jha of the Division said that there is a probability of rain in some parts of the country for the next three days but it will not be enough to douse the forest fires. "There is a possibility of rainfall with partial showers in some hill areas of Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali in the next few days,"he said, adding, "But the amount of rainfall is not likely to control the forest fires."    
Meanwhile, two people died in Lalitpur while trying to douse the fire in Tapeshwar Community Forest in Badikhel of Godavari Municipality-4.    
Sundar Sharma, an expert at the NDRRMA, said that it is difficult to control forest fires due to the lack of rain for a long time. There are usually around 2,500 fire incidents in Nepal every year.

"Eighty percent of forest fires occur in the four months from late March to late May. Hence, we are now at a high risk period," said Sharma.    
Stating that the incidents of forest fire are rising due to lack of sustainable management of forests, forest expert Dr Soni Baral Gauli stressed the need of management-oriented forest development rather than protection-oriented forest management.    
Likewise, Forest Officer at the Division Forest Office, Lalitpur, Thir Prasad Koirala shared that people light fires in forest to chase away wild animals to stop them from entering the village and attacking their cattle. He further said the incidents of forest fire are increasing due to human activities including throwing cigarette butts after smoking in the jungle and setting the jungle in fire intentionally to help grow grass faster.    
Section 49 (d) of the Forest Act has a provision that those involved in setting national forests in fire or involved in any fire-related incident would be punished. "Those involved in such activities will face three years of imprisonment or Rs 60,000 fine or both', reads the Act.    
Likewise, the forest fire management strategy-2067 has set a target of establishing and strengthening policy and organisational-level structures, mobilizing local community, civil society, government and non-government bodies and making preparedness to take pre information about the possible risk from wildfire to manage forest fires.    
However, President of the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal, Thakur Bhandari, points out the lack of effective implementation of the strategy. Some of the forest users have lost their lives in course of bringing the forest fire under control, he added, stating that the government has to increase capacity on how to control fire incidents safely. -- RSS

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