By Dr. Amitabh Dutta
Forest fires in Australia are a raging & recurring issue. Repeated failures to stop bush-fires raises a question, how to prevent it the next time? Here are a few suggestions from our Director, Dr. Amitabh Dutta.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#11: The world should come together for the forest-fire problem through a global platform for real-time monitoring of forests by satellite imagery for detection & timely information; such that emergent action can be taken fast to nip the fire in the bud.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#10: At the policy level, a ‘National Anti-Forest Fire Tribunal’ should be set up with a mandate to monitor, receive feedback, induct progressive reforms, and implement changes on the ground till a full-proof system of ‘zero forest fire year’ is achieved.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#9: The forest range can be presented to the public in ways such that it stimulates public interest & participation in its protection. Within a forest, there can be: medicinal plant center, horticulture unit, agroforestry system, animal care pockets.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#8: To limit fuel emission warming up the forest, the road that runs along a forest can be designed in a double green belt pattern. The inside-out sequence to include the forest boundary, a 20 m green belt, a 4-lane road, & finally, a 20-m wide green belt.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#7: The upkeep of a range of forest can be facilitated by environment-friendly commercialization (e.g. 18-hole golf course; guided tours paths for tourists/students; rain-water harvesting) which self-sustains & tends internal health of forest ecosystem.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#6: The administration can put in place active continuous surveillance (vehicular, drones, satellite) of the forest area to lower threshold for detection of forest fire and responsive action. On the ground, manned pickets should aid monitoring.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#5: There can be many remote fire-smoke sensors places in strategic position inside the forest range & monitored centrally. Though this will probably add a minuscule to the cost, it will be much lower than managing when the forest has caught fire!
#AustraliaBurning Solution#4: As there r rules for making infrastructure around sea-fronts; rules for not allowing any construction (residential, commercial), concrete or make-shift, within 1 km range of forest should be considered. Also, no human activity around the forest be allowed
#AustraliaBurning Solution#3: Each forest has a typical, tree profile. In Indian hill forests, breaking over-clustering of trees by interspersing Pine tree (dry, exude warm air, catches fire easily) and Rhodenderon tree (wet-n-cool, fire-resistant) clusters limits spread of fire.
#AustraliaBurning Solution#2: Since fire spreads through a bed of dried leaves lying on the ground, regular clearing of leaves is the key. Also, creating walking paths from within the trees would help. Importantly, the internal tending of a forest will significantly improve protection
#AustraliaBurning Solution#1 to prevent the spread of forest fires on-the-ground: multiple artificial water-bodies (rainwater pools, ponds, puddles, wetlands) can be created inside forest range to keep the ground non-dry & the intervening tree clusters separate from each other.