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Editorial

The power of fire

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By EMN Updated: Jan 15, 2014 11:31 pm
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[dropcap]A [/dropcap]state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales as Australian fire fighters battle bushfires that have already destroyed more than 200 homes. The announcement comes as conditions look set to deteriorate with soaring temperatures and strong winds expected to fan the flames in the coming days.
In the western countries forest fires are more often than not triggered by climatic conditions and occasionally the carelessness of trekkers.In Nagaland our forest fires are associated with the practice of jhumming (slash and burn) clearing certain tracts of forest area for terraced cultivation which involves intentionally setting fire to large tracts of forest land.
While the debate over the ‘sustainability’ of this practise in being studied in modern agricultural theories it cannot be denied that one major shortcoming is that after one harvest the land lies fallow for several years. NEPED (Nagaland Environment Protection for Economic Development) had initiated that certain crops could be cultivated on the fallow land and thus take advantage of it for domestic as well as commercial purposes.
But having said that not all forest fires are associated with cultivation there have been several instances in the past where accidents have set entire mountainsides raging with fire for days.
A case in example is the Dzüku fire in January 2010.
It raged for over a week even springing into the state government action to carry out an aerial survey with assistance of the Indian Air Force , of the extent of damage.
The fire accidentally began after a group of well intentioned youth clearing a trekking path in the western fringe of the valley in Zubza lit the collection of garbage.
While they put out the fire from the top they did not douse the entire heat of the fire to its roots or in its surrounding areas. The smouldering heat quickly got out of control when the dry roots of the shrubs and bamboo growth which covers the sides of the hills surrounding the valley caught fire. The fire spread using the though the deep rooted network of the foliage and turned into a giant inferno, spiralling out of control and hands of local youth on a mission to clean a tracking trail! The dry spell and breeze on high mountains aggravated the situation turning the sanctuary, mostly carpeted with dwarf bamboo species and ferns, into black patches.
The fire had completely ravaged the western side and perilously endangered the southern part covered with verdant forests, including different species of Rhodhodendrons.
Forest officials pointed out that the dwarf bamboos and ferns have the capacity to come up after rains but the main worry is the damage to the virgin forest, which is also home to many endangered animals.
The Catholic Church Sechü (Zubza) tendered ‘unconditional’ apology to Jotsoma and Southern Angami public organisation for the fire reportedly caused by its youth members.
In such a backdrop it is heartening to hear of the Nagaland Association for Adventure and Mountaineering and Education (NAAME) organising a climb to Mt Japfü with the intent of exposing adventure and nature enthusiasts to responsible adventure activities as well as share and delight in the diverse bio diversity of Nagaland.

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By EMN Updated: Jan 15, 2014 11:31:40 pm