Forest fire badly effects the ecological system of forests
it results in the loss of property
it destroys agriculture
it increases the temperature
it disturbs the watershed areas
Fire has long been integral part of the forest environment and has played an important role in shaping the flora and fauna. A fire may be either beneficial or detrimental to individuals of a particular species but the effect of a single fire is not as environmentally significant as a change to the fire regime (Smith, 1995).
The social, economic and ecological cost of fires has demonstrated that the resources many governments have to respond to forest fires are often overwhelmed. A UN mission report on the 1997 Indonesian forest fires concluded that the blazes had "an important international dimension in relation to severe, transboundary air pollution, and the large scale destruction of the unique aspects of the existing biodiversity which represents a world heritage" (UNDAC 1997).
In Indian context according to a study by Srivastava (1989), during the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-85) 17852 fires were reported, affecting an area of 5.7 million ha, or an annual average of some 1.14 million ha. Inventories conducted by the Forest Survey of India show that on average 55% of forest area in India is affected by fire and 78 percent by grazing. Subsequently, little regeneration occurs in 72 percent of forested areas (Ministry of Environment and Forest, 1997). The annual losses from forest fires in India for the entire country have been moderately estimated at Rs 440 crores (US$ 107 million). This estimate does not include the loss suffered in the form of biodiversity, nutrient and soil moisture and other intangible benefits. India witnessed the most severe forest fires in during the summer of 1995 in the hills of Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh in north west Himalaya. An area of 677,700 ha was affected by fires. The quantifiable timber loss was around Rs. 17.50 crores (US$ 43 million).
In the present study fire is studied as agent of transformation which affects biotic and abiotic component of ecosystem and thus altering productive, protective function of a forest. This is highlighted in the ecosystem fragmentation, alteration in ecosystem structure and function, biodiversity status of an area. An attempt is made to study the short and long term effect of fire on biodiversity status.
The study area is characterized by hilly and mountainous terrain supporting varied forest types and composition controlled by altitude, landuse/land cover types along with perpetual snow cover on the mountain peaks. Variation in altitude is quite appreciable ranging from about 549m to 3750m. There are no perpetually snow-covered areas in this range. The area under forest cover represents 56.14% out of its total geographical area. Pine is the dominant forest type followed by oak, oak mixed and deciduous. Pine is most susceptible to fire almost every year particularly near habitation/agricultural patches.
The main objective of the investigation is to understand the role of fire in shaping ecosystem with emphasis on long and short term impact of fire, main stress on biodiversity by fire and other biotic/abiotic factors in combination with fire which cause biodiversity loss.
To restore more normal fire dynamics to a particular region, managers need to know how fire has historically affected the local system, and how it functions today. Such can form basis for new policies aimed at restoring fire cycles that will present a lower risk to human life and property, and help safeguard the stability and diversity of ecosystems. Forest managers must take a holistic, long-term landscape-level view, and show change in itself is inevitable. Considerable progress is attainable, but requires collaboration between ecologists and forest managers.