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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Carbon Emission from Forest Fires

16th July 2020

Why in News?

The recent study published in Science of the Total Environment used remote sensing-based models to measure the primary productivity over an area and also looked at burn indices.

Parameters used in the study

The burn indices

  • Burn indices help to demarcate the forest fire burn scars using satellite imagery.
  • The spectral differences between healthy vegetation and burnt forest areas can easily be identified and highlighted by remote sensing burn indices.
  • This can be a promising tool for land resource managers and fire officials.

The normalized burn ratio

  • It is an effective burn index commonly used to identify burnt regions in large fire zones.
  • In normal conditions in a forest, healthy vegetation exhibits a very high reflectance in the near-infrared spectral region and considerably low reflectance in the shortwave infrared spectral region.
  • However, these conditions get dismantled and reversed if a fire occurs.

Findings of the study

Forest fire hotspots

According to the study, the States of northeast India, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand are the most fire prone in India.

Carbon emissions during forest fires

  • Previous studies using forecasting models and in-situ observations in western Himalaya had shown a sharp increase of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and ozone during high fire activity periods.
  • The current study noted very high to high carbon emissions in the eastern Himalayan states, western desert region, and lower Himalayan region.

Occurrence of high fire intensity at the low altitude Himalayan hilly region

  • According to the study, this phenomenon may be due to the plant species (pine trees) in the area and proximity to villages.
  • Also, villages make them more susceptible to anthropogenic activities like forest cover clearance, grazing, and so on.

Causes of increased episodes of forest fires

  • Studies have shown that the sharp increase in average and maximum air temperature, decline in precipitation, change in land use patterns have caused the increased episodes of forest fires in most of the Asian countries.

Forest fires in India:

  • During 2003–2017, a total of 5,20,861 active forest fire events were detected in India.
  • According to the report of the Forest Survey of India, over 54% of the forest cover in India is exposed to occasional fire.

Causes of forest fire

Natural Causes

  • Many forest fires start from natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire
  • High atmospheric temperatures and dryness (low humidity) offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start. In dry season, friction leading to sparks by rolling stones in the mountainous areas may lead to forest fires.
  • In bamboo areas, forest fires may occur by the rubbing together of clumps of dry bamboos.
  • Volcanic eruptions also lead to forest fires naturally
  • In the past twenty years, the fire events in India have strongly been linked with the presence of El Nino conditions affecting the monsoon movements.

Man-made causes:

  • shifting cultivation
  • ward off wild animals
  • Burning farm residue
  • Graziers and gatherers of various forest products starting small fires to obtain good grazing grass as well as to facilitate gathering of minor forest produce like flowers of Madhuca indica and leaves of Diospyros melanoxylon.

Measures to curb Forest fires:

1) National Action Plan on Forest Fires

  • The MoEFCC has prepared a National Action Plan on Forest Fires in 2018 after several rounds of consultation with all states and UTs.
  • The objective of this plan is to minimize forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivizing them to work in tandem with the State Forest Departments.
  • The plan also intends to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards, enhance capabilities of forest personnel and institutions in fighting fires and swift recovery subsequent to fire incidents.

2) Forest Fire Prevention and Management scheme

  • The MoEFCC provides forest fire prevention and management measures under the Centrally Sponsored Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FPM) scheme.
  • The FPM is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.
  • The FPM replaced the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme (IFMS) in 2017. By revamping the IFMS, the FPM has increased the amount dedicated for forest fire work.
  • Funds allocated under the FPM are according to the 90:10 ratio of central to state funding in the Northeast and Western Himalayan regions and 60:40 ratio for all other states.
  • Nodal officers for forest fire prevention and control have been appointed in each state.

Mitigation Strategies:


  • FSI has begun the development of systems for early warning and fire danger rating, and these efforts should be continued.
  • Digitization of management boundaries by the state forest departments should be completed, so that the FSI can more accurately determine which fires to report and to whom.
  • Fire alert systems can also be improved by integrating ground-based detection with the satellite-based alert systems.

Community Engagement

  • Sensitization of communities should be done to ensure that fire is used responsibly in a way that promotes forest health, while seeking to avoid damaging and out-of-control fires.
  • Provision of training should extend beyond state-managed forests to community institutions in regions such as the Northeast, where communities are responsible for managing most of the forest estate.


Why in News?

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

  • By joining the Network, cities commit to sharing their best practices and developing partnerships involving the public and private sectors as well as civil society in order to:
  • strengthen the creation, production, distribution and dissemination of cultural activities, goods and services.
  • develop hubs of creativity and innovation and broaden opportunities for creators and professionals in the cultural sector
  • improve access to and participation in cultural life, in particular for marginalized or vulnerable groups and individuals
  • Fully integrate culture and creativity into sustainable development plans.
  • The UNESCO Creative Cities Network now counts around 246 cities.
  • The member cities that form part of the Network come from all continents and regions with different income levels and populations.
  • The Creative Cities Network is a privileged partner of UNESCO, not only as a platform for reflection on the role of creativity as a lever for sustainable development but also as a breeding ground of action and innovation, notably for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • They work together towards a common mission: placing creativity and the creative economy at the core of their urban development plans to make cities safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable, in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 7 categories for recognition under UCCN are;

  1. Crafts and Folk Arts
  2. Design
  3. Film
  4. Gastronomy
  5. Music
  6. Media Arts
  7. Literature

Indian Cities under UCCN:

  • In 2019 UNESCO designated Mumbai as a member of UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) in the field of FILM and Hyderabad in the field of GASTRONOMY.
  • Other Indian cities which were recognized as members of UCCN, namely-
  • Jaipur-Crafts and Folk Arts(2015)
  • Varanasi-Creative city of Music (2015)
  • Chennai-Creative city of Music(2017)

Facts for Prelims

  • Recently the walled city of Jaipur was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. India had proposed the nomination of Jaipur as an “exceptional urban example in indigenous city planning and construction in South Asia”, before the World Heritage Committee
  • UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
About Jaipur

  • It is the capital and largest city of the state of Rajasthan
  • The city was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh II (1699-1743)
  • It was one of the earliest planned cities of modern India, designed by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya(chief architect and city planner of Jaipur)
  • Unlike other cities in the region located in hilly terrain, Jaipur was established on the plain and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture
  • Jaipur was planned based on the principles of Vastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra.
  • The city is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Amber Fort and Jantar Mantar.



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