Forest fires in Uttarakhand, India

Extreme weather is slowly becoming the new normal. If any one needed evidence, the past couple of months are proving beyond doubt that extreme weather events like floods, hurricanes and heatwaves are increasing in number all around us. In India, considered a highly vulnerable nation to climate change, the impacts are severe and affect millions of people every year. One of the oft overlooked consequences of climate change are forest fires. Engulfing thousands of hectares of forests, they lead to high loss of biodiversity and in many places, destroy indispensable source of livelihood. 

Warmer temperatures and drier climates make a perfect recipe for forest fires and global warming is sustaining such conditions in some of the worlds most important forests. In the northern state of Uttarakhand in India, forest fires have been raging relentlessly for the past few years. In the last decade, oak trees have been replaced by dry pines that are susceptible to fires and increasing mono culture is now causing greater damage than profits that the Govt. had originally planned for. 

 
 
Raghu Tiwari, an organizer from Aman works on issues of forest management and building local movements. He says that records from the past 50 years indicate a steady rise in summer temperatures which have reached unusual highs of 40 degrees celsius. He believes that global warming coupled with bad policies around forest management is leading to great loss of biodiversity. Chaukutiya valley, Pauri & Kedarnath forest divisions and many more forested areas of Uttarakhand are reeling under forest fires. Nina, an active 350 organizer in Almora feels the solution also lies in removing the dry pine needles. Pine needle gasification to produce energy could prove to be an incentive to local villagers. 
 
It is indeed a complicated state of play with various factors involved but it is high time we connected the dots between extreme weather and climate change before the loss to our biodiversity proves too costly for everybody.  Below is a picture from our connect the dots action in Corbett, Uttarkhand on May 5th where organizers held fiery dots to highlight the issue.
 

 

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