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The grave situation of forest fires in Pakistan

Devastating forest fires continue to rage in Pakistan amid the extreme heatwaves. This year, the fires have scorched about 45 acres of Margalla national park so far and fires are still raging. In comparison, some 35 fires were reported in 2021 that damaged 189 acres.

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Over the passage of time, mankind has given way to some astounding complications regarding the future of this beautiful world. One of the said complications is known as ‘global warming’ that in turn leads to climate change. This phenomenon tends to follow a positive gradient in the sense that it has only increased drastically, dating back to the industrial revolution in the 1800s. While it affects many countries worldwide, Pakistan remains as one of the few facing the brunt of this cataclysm. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, in their annual report for 2020, Pakistan was placed in the 5th spot in the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change.

A range of disasters envelops the country every year for example floods, droughts, storms and in our case, intense heatwaves resulting in drier regions and forest fires throughout the country. The geographical position of Pakistan serves as a major factor in deciding the severity of these effects as it is prone to extremes in temperatures. The rising temperatures dry up the moisture from the soil and vegetation is more vulnerable to flammability. There has been a sudden increase in forest fires in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially the Swat district and recently 4 people were killed after a fire erupted in Shangla district due to the dry weather.

Read more: Forest fires in Pakistan: A new challenge?

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa however, wasn’t the only province to witness these fires

A fire broke out in the pine forests of Balochistan as well on May 12th. In 2021 the fires destroyed 189 acres of land, this year the fires scorched 45 acres of margalla national park, as well as 40% of trees in the pine forests of the Koh-E-Sulaiman range and they continue to rage on.

The frequency of these detrimental calamities proves a growing cause for concern and begs the question, “Is Pakistan really equipped with the necessary tools to handle such catastrophes in the future?” Further damage would be lethal to the economy of Pakistan as the current costs of these fires are high enough already, for example, the fires raging at the Koh-E-Sulaiman range burned more than 100000 native chilgoza trees and the annual income from these trees was around 3 billion rupees. Along with that, there are a great number and species of birds that were either displaced from their habitats or might have died with their nests scorched down.

The great shortage of rainfall played a devastating role in the outburst of these fires, the Pakistan Meteorological Department stated that the rainfall for the month of May 2022 was 48.4% below normal, leading to such dry conditions in multiple regions and provinces. Recently these fires have also become an attraction for TikTokers and social Media enthusiasts, unfortunately, as they have been connected to these incidents. As disappointing as that is for our country, we must understand that these people do not truly recognize the importance of trees and vegetation, and so we must try to educate the masses in this regard.

Read more: Australia Burning: Bushfires kill countless people, animals, and forests

Therefore, we come to the conclusion that forest fires must be controlled and prevented through proper effective equipment and better training. Drones and sensors may be used to identify burning regions before further damage. Strict penalties and laws must be imposed on those who commit arson or any fire-related offenses.

Weather conditions such as droughts and winds must be monitored the most as these play a great part in the origination and dispersion of wildfire. In the long term, we must collectively control greenhouse emissions in order to prevent further damage in the future, not only in Pakistan but globally so that we may secure the planet and make it sustainable for generations to come.

 

The writer is an advocate for environmental justice. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.