by Payal Singh, intern at Himalayan Ecotourism
The other day Stephan and I had gone to Gushani to meet two of the cooperative members to discuss the idea of opening a plant nursery through crowdfunding. The first, thing we needed to figure out was where to grow these trees, the budget, the maintenance & most importantly, the kinds of trees to be grown. Through the discussion, we inevitably touched upon the issue of forest fires in the region. That’s what left me yearning for more.
On the India Spends website, a Hindustan Times report read, “India loses about Rs 550 crore every year because of damages due to forest fires.” If that doesn’t scare you I don’t know what will.
As I began researching, it saddened me to find that most of these fires were man-made. The locals set fire to the forest to get fast and better growth of grass for the following year. Alongside that, the nature of the forest plays a crucial role in the forest fire. Himachal Pradesh is home to Pine trees. These luscious trees have pine needles that fall off and cover the ground beneath them. These pine leaves decompose extremely slowly and kill the growth under them, giving no options to the locals than burn it.
The burning season starts mid-Feb and lasts till mid-June before the monsoon hit. Needless to say, the rise in the temperature due to global warming plays a critical role.
Some organizations have come up with a solution to deal with the pine needle crisis. They used the pine needles riskiest quality in their favour ie inflammable.
They decided to use it alongside other biomass structures, and it was found to be a great source of heat and could be used for cooking. Most importantly,it’s a great replacement for wood and coal in terms of pollution being let out.