Forest Fire in Manipur

As per the latest state of forests report of the Forest Survey of India the actual forest cover of India increased from 19.27% in 2013 to 21.34 % of the country's geographical area in 2015. This corresponds to a total forest area of 7,01,673 sq km. Forest fires are a major cause of degradation of India's forests. While statistical data on fire loss are meager, it is estimated that the proportion of forest areas prone to forest fires annually ranges from 33% in some states to over 90% in other states[1], with about 90% of the forest fires created by humans.[2]In India, fire season is normally from february to june. Dry decidous forests are comparatively more prone to forest fires to other types of forests. Incidence of fire is classified ‘heavy’ if 50 percent of the area is affected by fire, moderate if 10-50 percent affected and ‘mild’ if the area affected is less than 10. As per the state of forest report 2015, at the national level, about 65% of the forest types are prone to forest fire. Out of which 2.40 % of the forest suffers from heavy forest fire whereas moderate forest fire accounts to 7.49 %. About 54 % of the forest types fall under the category of mild fire incidence.  

Ten thousand and eighty four cases of fire incidences were reported in NER India in the year 2014 during the forest fire season, out of which 18 % is contributed by Manipur with the maximum fire incidents occurring in the month of March[3]. Historical fire location data for the year 2001 to 2013 shows that high incidence of forest fire occurred in evergreen/semi-evergreen forest followed by bamboo and conifers. The maximum fire points in Manipur are observed in Southeast and the minimum in the North. The Maximum number of fire points lies in the slope range from 15 -25° and elevation range from 500 – 1000m. Fire frequency is observed in forest lying at a distance of 50-100m from roads.


[1] Satendra and Ashutosh, D. Kaushik, “Forest fire disaster management”,  2012, National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India

[1] International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, “Forest Fires in India,

[1] Forest Fire Assessment in Northeast India under North Eastern Regional Node for Disaster Risk Reduction Program (NER-DRR)”, 2014, North Eastern Space Applications Centre 

Source: North Eastern Space Applications Centre

A study on forest fire under the North Eastern Regional Node-Disaster Risk Reduction, classified fire vulnerability zones into five categories namely, very high, high, moderate, low and vary low vulnerability zones. These vulnerability zonations are created based on historical data analysis (2001-2013) in order to understand the relationship between forest fire and various factors such as vegetation types, topography factors, roads, settlements, water bodies etc.  Forest fire incidence data of 2014 analysed with respect to vulnerable zonation in Manipur shows that the maximum fire incidence (45%) occurred in moderate vulnerability zone and high vulnerability zone (40%). Whereas the minimum fire incidence (1.2% and 1.7%) is seen in very high vulnerability zone and very low vulnerability zone respectively.

Forest fire hazard zonation is represented by taking into account variables like latitude and longitudes of fire location, fire occurrence date, type of road connectivity, slope and aspect, presence of settlements/water bodies, and meteorological data. Based on these parameters, each fire location is classified into one of the four vulnerability categories; viz, severe, high, moderate and low[4]. As per the Forest fire report for Manipur, 2015, there was forest fire in 9 locations in the districts of Tamenglong, Senapati and Ukhrul. The highest incidence of forest fire in Manipur occurred in Ukhrul District (five locations). The level of the fire incidence is moderate in four locations and low in one location. The land use cover category around the fire location in Ukhrul mostly consists of Scrub, open evergreen, jhum and dense evergreen. The road leading to the fire locations are all kutccha village road with no water body nearby all these fire locations. The wind speed at these location ranges from 6.54 km/hour to 9.97 km /hour. Moreover, there is human settlement in all these locations. All these mentioned features indicate the severity of the vulnerability and low adaptive capacity of these locations to forest fire. There were incidences of forest in three locations in Tamenglong district. One location lies nearby the National Highway. The type of vegetation in these fire locations are mostly Scrub, open evergreen, jhum, dense evergreen and agricultural lands. Water bodies are not available in two fire locations whereas it was available in one location. The fire incidences in all these locations fall under the level of moderate vulnerability category. In Senapati district too, there was a moderate category of forest fire in one location where there was human settlement. The road leading to this fire location is a village kucchha road.

Forest fires in Manipur are mostly human-induced. There are cases of forest fire being lit intentionally for recreational purpose as a part of tradition particularly in the hill areas. Whereas some cases are due to carelessness of the settlers while handling with controlled burning for different purposes. It is observed that the awareness of the people on forest fire and its hazardous impacts has picked up during the recent years. However, forest fires continue to remain one of the biggest causes and threats of endangering biodiversity and causing imbalances in the ecosystem.


Source:  MODIS, Bhuvan, ISRO & IMD-AWS