Forest fire pose threats to the ecosystem and human lives every year in Nepal. The problem is exacerbated with rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and prolonged droughts. Despite efforts from multiple agencies, forest fire remains a threat due mainly to high accumulation of fuel load in the forests and poor forest management practices. This calls for effective forest fire management strategies with a combination of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery measures. In this backdrop, ForestAction Nepal in collaboration with Nepal Forester’s Association (NFA), Global Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (GIIS), and Institute for Study and Development Worldwide (IFSD) organized a half day dialogue to identify key gaps and challenges pertinent to forest fire management in Nepal.
Some key takeaways from the dialogue are:
– With changing patterns and intensity, it is important to understand the forest fire dynamics to reduce the hazards.
– In recent years, local communities are losing interest and motivation in getting involved in extinguishing forest fire in nearby community forests. Though several reasons can be attributed to this, the primary factor has been increasing regulatory requirements for the user groups to acquire timber and other benefits from the forest.
– Declining interest and involvement of user groups in forest management activities has resulted in high deposition of burning materials/biomass in the forests, thus triggering the risk of fire. This demands for a radical rethinking on the use of forest biomass.
– While technological innovations have proven to be effective in some cases, policies and strategies should largely focus on engaging community institutions and their participation in management of forest fire in Nepal. In addition, adequate focus should be laid on reducing risks of communities who get involved in forest fire management.
– While problems and issues pertinent to forest fire in Nepal are largely understood, prioritizing research and piloting will provide a solid ground for scaling out strategies and options for forest fire management.