Forest Fires

There has been a constant rise in forest fires in 2021 in some of the world’s coldest regions. This is an impact of climatic change and global warming.

According to a report from Down to Earth, wildfires have emitted around 1.76 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in November 2021. Forest departments claim that many fire incidents are man-made, sometimes caused deliberately.

Climate change in India and across the world has been a major cause of concern for environmentalists and conservationists. Thus, IAS aspirants must thoroughly go through the effects, causes, prevention and more discussed about forest fires further below in this article.

The following article explains the concept of forest fire and its causes to help students prepare for UPSC Prelims.

Kickstart your IAS Exam preparation now and complement your preparation with the links given below:

What is a Forest Fire?

Forest fires are wildfires that spread uncontrollably, burning plants, animals, grasslands and brushlands that fall in their path. The wind spreads the fire rapidly, causing significant air pollution.

Generally, fires that continue for longer or are highly inflammable are caused by climatic changes. There are also instances of forest fires caused by humans, lightning and extreme drought.

Forest fires have become a global concern as many countries face significant life and property losses. Moreover, the carbon dioxide released into the air due to forest fires causes lung and skin infections in humans.

In India, forest fires generally occur during March and April when the ground is filled with dry logs, hay, weeds, woods and leaves. In some instances, the friction from rubbing branches leads to forest fires, when the temperature is high or extremely dry.

Students collecting materials on forest fires for UPSC notes should know that extreme soil moisture deficiency increases wildfire risk. Indian states like Uttarakhand are prone to such forest fires.

Burning of forests for livelihood or excessive irrigation falls under forest fire causes.

Reckless behaviour like a carelessly discarded cigarette butt or matchstick can lead to big accidents. According to the Indian Express, the Simlipal forest fire was caused by villagers burning dry leaves to collect mahua flowers.

Nevertheless, students preparing for IAS and UPSC exam should be aware of the major forest fires in India and other countries.

Given below are a few other related links in line with the UPSC Syllabus for the reference of candidates:

Stubble Burning

Green Revolution

Amazon Rainforest

Carbon Footprint & Carbon Watch

Paris Agreement

National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)

Major Forest Fires in 2021

  • Wildfires in Siberia affected the western region around Tyumen and Omsk in early 2021. As per the Moscow Times, nearly 40 million acres of land have burned down in Siberia. The eastern part of the region, like the Sakha Republic in the northeast, suffered major damage.
  • North America saw extreme temperature and heat waves in July and August. Lytton city in Canada recorded a temperature of 49.6 degrees Celsius, causing a series of wildfires.
  • The Mediterranean region suffered major wildfires leading to an increase in PM levels up to 2.5. Turkey, Tunisia and Italy suffered the worst wildfires.

Instances in India

  • The Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland-Manipur border saw prolonged fires in January.
  • There was a major wildfire between February and March in the Simlipal National Park in Odisha.
  • According to the Indian Express, Southern Chhattisgarh, Central Odisha, Western Maharashtra, and areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are highly prone to forest fires.
  • Bandhavgarh Forest Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and sanctuaries in Gujarat also witnessed forest fires.
  • According to the Indian Express, Uttarakhand witnessed nearly 1,000 forest fires over the last six months, up to April 2021.

Apart from the significant incidents, UPSC 2022 aspirants should know the effects of the forest fire.

Effects of Forest Fire

  • Forest fires can impact the economy as many families and communities depend on the forest for food, fodder and fuel.
  • It burns down the small shrubs and grasses, leading to landslides and soil erosion.
  • Burning of forests causes smoke and poisonous gas emissions that result in significant health issues in humans.
  • Loss of trees can disrupt the climatic conditions and break down the carbon chain.
  • Wildfires damage the habitat of animals, causing them to wander in cities. Many die in the fires, unable to escape.
  • These fires destroy the vegetation, soil quality and overall flora and fauna.

Individuals can read this article to learn about forest fires for their IAS and UPSC preparation. Additionally, they can check the updates on news channels to know the current affairs, and crack their UPSC exam with ease.

Other Related Links

What are the types of soil erosion?

What are the causes of soil erosion?

Classification of Soil in India

Environment and Ecology Notes

UPSC Prelims Previous Year Environment and Ecology Questions with Solutions

Environment & Ecology Questions in UPSC Mains GS-3

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the man-made causes of forest fires?

Wildfires can be caused when a source of naked flame from electric spark, cigarettes or bidi comes in contact with combustible material.


What are the three types of forest fires?

The three types of forest fires are crown fire, surface fire and ground fire. Ground fire occurs on land and spreads slowly. Crown fires pose a high risk as they can spread from one tree to another. However, surface fires are usually smaller and cause the least damage.


What is firebreak? How is it helpful to stop wildfires?

Firebreak is a method to stop wildfires by getting rid of fuels like grass and trees. Ideally, firefighters remove the fuels along the path a fire is advancing.


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