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Forest fires continue to rage across country

Kathmandu, April 29, 2016: Raging forest fires have become a major cause for concern, as they are not only resulting in fast depletion of trees but also are greatly affecting humans and wildlife.

The authorities and local people have been facing a tough time containing fires that are spreading through the jungles across the country, thanks to prolonged dry spell and windy weather condition.

A fresh forest fire in the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, the only hunting reserve in the country, in Myagdi district has put wildlife in Gurja area at risk. “Dry trees catch fire easily and the blaze just spreads through the jungle in no time,” said Jhak Bahadur Chhantyal, a local of Gurja. A team of security personnel was struggling to contain the fire till Thursday evening.

Around 350,000 hectares of forest cover has been reported to have been destroyed by wildfires in the past 45 days.

In Kapilvastu, fires have destroyed 50 community, four collaborative and two national forests in the past few days. Forests in the Chure range are also feeling the heat. According to the District Forest Office, 31 percent of forest cover has been affected due to raging blaze.

“Our efforts to contain fires have gone down the drain,” said Kapilvastu District Forest Officer Rakesh Karna.
Situation in Gulmi also does not look good.

Over 1,500 hectares of forest land has been destroyed by wildfires in the past few days. Eight community and national forests in the district have been affected the most. Five houses in Resunga and Rupakot were also gutted, said Assistant Forest Officer Karna Pandey.

In Pyuthan, 15 houses were burnt to ashes in Maranthana and Dharampani on Wednesday night in a fire that was spreading through a local community forest, according to District Police Office. Police said Meghulal Giri of Puthyan-17 has been arrested on charge of causing the fire at Maranthana.

Fires have been spreading through forests in Palpa, Bajhang and Kanchanpur districts as well. The Parliamentary Committee on Environment Protection on Wednesday had expressed concern about lack of efforts from the government to control forest fires.