Odisha’s Simlipal Forest Fire

What is the Simlipal Biosphere reserve?


Simlipal is a national park, a tiger reserve, and a biosphere reserve in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.

The forest area is home to various species of orchids and has thousands of species of plants. The recognized species of fauna include many species of amphibians, species of fish, numerous species of butterflies, species of reptiles, species of birds, and species of mammals, all of which together highlight the richness of the biodiversity of Similipal. Sal is a dominant tree species. The name Simlipal is derived from ‘Simul,’ the silk cotton tree.

Is Simlipal forest reserve fire-prone?


Simlipal forest area frequently witnesses forest fires during dry weather conditions. The forest area remains at risk to forest fires during Autumn. It is a regular annual phenomenon, but these are brought under control due to the short rains in January and February. However, the sudden onset of summer from February acted as a perfect fuel for the rise in a wildfire. The last major fire incident at the Simlipal forest was in 2015.

What causes the fire in Simlipal?


Natural factors such as lighting or even rising temperatures can lead to fires in the forests. Man-made factors are also responsible for the fires to start to a great extent.

The forest areas are set on fire by the villagers to clear the dry fallen leaves on the ground for easy collection of the mahua flowers. Villagers burn patches of sal trees for the better growth of the trees.

This year, along with man-made factors, the advanced heatwave with the early arrival of summer further worsened the condition.

How intense was the fire?


As per the Regional Conservator, a total of 399 fire points had been identified in the fringe areas adjoining the forest, close to the villages. The fires are a common issue at the Simplipal forest, but this time the troubles were more near the fringe areas. The fire did not cause any loss of wildlife as the core area of the tiger reserve wasn’t affected. There were more than 350 active large forest fire events in Odisha. This accounted for 41 % of the country’s overall 880 large forest fire incidents recorded in a day. From this, we can comprehend how intense it was, and more efforts need to be taken to avoid such unfortunate instances in the future.

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