Every year, three months are very hot with temperatures rising above forty degrees centigrade often. May-June and July are the months of severe heat waves. May and June, are drought-hit months too. Fire erupts in forests during these months and data shows that the incidents of fire in and around Islamabad have risen sharply.
Forest fire occurrence and field survey data compiled by CDA, Islamabad, show that during the period from 15 June 2005 to 12 July 2018, a total number of 299 fires were recorded in the Margalla Hills.
However this year, the number of fires was rather high and intense
The major reason for fires is drought and high temperatures. Spread over 31,000 acres, the Margalla Hills National Park witnesses several fire incidents every year during summer, adversely affecting both trees and animals. During the current season, several major fires broke out in the Saidpur range and Chinari area of Magallanes. This year, for the first time, at NUST, Sector H-12, an also fire erupted. The other fire incidents were reported in Talhar Village, Srinagar Highway, and Kashmir Chowk.
One video shows two young TikTokers setting the forest ablaze with a lighter on Margalla Hills. Another video that went viral on social media showed a model and TikToker named Doli performing in front of a fire in a forest, which has yet to be identified but is believed to be in Kahuta or Islamabad. Earlier, another TikToker set the woods on fire in Abbottabad and was taken into custody by wildlife officials.
Forest fires may have detrimental environmental and local impacts. These fires are not only harmful to property and human life but also endanger ecosystem permanency. In general, there has been a growing increase in the amount and intensity of forest fires across the world over the last decade. However, in Pakistan, it is exceptionally high and serious. This phenomenon raises public concern about the environmental and socio-economic impacts of forest fires.
While the researchers are conducting the root cause of such incidents and proposing preventive measures. Whereas, the policy makers rarely formulate the measures to avert such incidents. The Government with its limited resources is also trying its best, yet, it seems the growth of fire incidents is vulnerable.
The CDA and IWMB make announcements every year to set up pickets and deploy forest guards for patrolling to prevent fire incidents giving firefighting jobs to the villagers during the fire season. There are reports that those who could not get employment deliberately set the forests on fire.
Read more: Military and climate change: A case of India
Taking notice of the forest fire in the capital, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed city managers to take emergency measures. The prime minister stressed immediate steps to evacuate people from the affected area. He directed the mobilization of the fire brigade on an urgent basis immediately to extinguish the fire. He also urged the Ministry of Climate Change to present a comprehensive strategy to prevent such incidents in Islamabad and Margalla hills in the future.
Meanwhile, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman also took to her Twitter handle to respond to the fire incident. She wrote that fires are being fought all over the Margalla today by CDA and Wildlife Board on several sites including NUST. She advised that an unprecedented heat wave is leaving its mark; people must not leave heaps of dry leaves and bushes too as these are tinder boxes for fires.
The NDMA sent the helicopters of the Pakistan Army to control the fire while the rest of the agencies conducted operations on the ground.
Wildfires pose a significant danger and a serious challenge to be addressed
Many variables, such as weather conditions and human activities, fuel characteristics of fire management activities, and changes in land use and climate, affect fire behaviors. Climate change is considered among these factors to be a key factor attributable to forest fires.
Many forests in Pakistan have a low forest road network and therefore, it is difficult to reach the whole forest area. Generally, wildfires happened in less populated areas and at a long distance from public roads, but some anthropogenic behaviors could have influenced fire growth. In practice, RS and GIS are useful techniques for exploring forest fire and their distribution. Using various meteorological models to evaluate the impact of weather on forest regions and the influence of urban heat needs to be further investigated and researched.
Fires have a direct impact on our social and economic life
It is vital to address this issue on an emergency basis. The researchers and scholars are conducting research, policymakers are formulating appropriate measures. And Government is trying its best to overcome such an issue. Whereas, the public is also urged to play their part in the role and take all necessary preventive measures. Collectively, we may overcome this serious challenge.
This year, the drought and high temperature for a prolonged time are unusual. It will melt the glaciers and might cause too much water in a couple of days in rivers. It will coincide with the monsoon and enhance the river waters. India is storing water in its dams when drought is prevailing in Pakistan, but, will open its dams and release tremendous water into Pakistan. There are chances of heavy floods in Pakistan following weeks. Heavy rains and floods also cause earthquakes too.
Afraid that more natural disasters may happen to Pakistan this year
It is to be alarmed that all preventive measures must be placed well in advance. Government and the Public must join hands to face all circumstances ahead. However, we pray to almighty Allah to protect us all.
It is worth mentioning that, Pakistan has not responsible for damaging the environment. It is India, which during the course of industrialization, has damaged the environment and Pakistan has been a victim. The prolonged war in Afghanistan for almost four decades has used explosives equaling to combined explosives used in all wars in the world including WWI and WWII, which has caused severe damage to environments, and again, Pakistan is the victim. Pakistan has considered one of the nation’s worst hit by climate change, whereas it is not responsible for climate change, but, a victim only.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: email@example.com). The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.