Division Forest Office in Myagdi unable to control forest firesWildfires have been raging in over two dozen community and national forests, wildlife reserves and conservation areas for the past few days.
With the unusually dry season the country has been experiencing this year, more than 400 forest fires have been reported from across the country. In Myagdi, wildfires have been raging in over two dozen community and national forests, wildlife reserves and conservation areas for the past few days.
The Division Forest Office in Myagdi has allocated more than Rs 1 million budget for wildfire control and prevention, as it does every year. But despite the preventive measures, officials at the forest office say wildfires have gone out of control.
Human settlements in Dhaulagiri and Malika rural municipalities have been greatly affected since wildfires in nearby forest are inching closer by the day.
“Wildfires have been raging in almost all hills (forest areas) now. The rural municipality has been making efforts to control wildfires but we haven’t been able to do much,” said Thamsara Pun, chairperson of Dhaulagiri Rural Municipality.
According to her, most forest fires start because of human negligence.
“Local residents themselves make bonfires in villages to generate new sprouts but are not careful about it. Poachers too are to blame for the wildfires. They start fire in forests to trap wildlife in the highlands,” Pun said.
Sub division wildfire control networks have been established at the district headquarters and all six local units in Myagdi. According to the record of the forest office, Rs 150,000 has been spent on providing meals to forest guards and those involved in fire fighting. The office also spent a significant amount of their anti-wildfire campaign budget to purchase mobile recharge cards for informants.
“Fire incidents are low in community forests as of now. But the national forest is at risk,” said Santosh Khanal, acting division forest officer.
Myagdi has a total forest cover of 229,706 hectares. Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve has 1,260 hectares and Annapurna Conservation 3,753 hectares of forestland. Three hundred and ten community forests cover 24,202 hectares of land whereas around five hectares of forest cover belongs to leasehold, religious and private forests in the district. Rest of the forest cover belongs to the national forest, according to the data of the Division Forest Office.
“The Division Forest Office has been organising various programmes to prevent and control wildfires. But such programmes have not been implemented successfully,” said Khanal.