Raging forest fires across the world, particularly in the mediterranean region, for past few weeks, have brought about never-seen devastation in decades in southern coast of Turkey. These fire eruptions are all linked to climate change in the northeastern mediterranean to steadily rising average temperature since 1990s. These fires have cost heavily to environmental ecosystem, in addition to the death of thousands of farm animals and their habitat, and countless tree losses.
Fires in the forest cover in different parts of lower Chitral have already cost millions of precious trees. It is a researchable problem in understanding how they and what trigger to erupt, and the losses caused from these fires to be accounted for.
Perhaps it was first time in the history of Chitral that a forester, Jamshid Iqbal, as he and his two colleagues while returning back to home from forest, after receiving the reports of forest fire, slipped from the track and fell into the Chumarkhon Gol and died. This case received national coverage in media, and must bring the cases of forest fires into the notice of government and concerned departments in ascertaining their causes.
Three days before this incident, fire had erupted in Drosh Gol which damaged a vast cover of flora and fauna, was partially extinguished later by operation of firefighters of Rescue 1122, staffers of forest department and residents of Biori village, as a report reads.
Almost nine years before, forest fire eruptions were limited in Kalash valleys, as fire reported in the forest of Achulga—situated between Bumburate and Rumbur valley, has been famous for its deodar cover. This fire was reported as erupted due to the labourers were cutting trees in the area. It also pointing to other reasons without mentioning them. Reporting on the same fire eruption , a Kalash activist Luke Rahmat, does refer to chemicals allegedly used to erupt fires in the forest. This report also estimates (as a guesswork) devastation to forest cover (of trees used both for construction and fuel, and fruit trees) from fire were to be 7 million trees of deodar, 0.5 million Oak trees, Pine net 1 million trees, and 2 million trees of fuel wood among other losses to be in trillions.
Six years later, once again in Rumbur’s Sanjiret valley have had mysterious fire erupted which was referred to as caused by elements involved in illegal cutting of trees in the area. In the Biri valley, this year in the month of June, also a fire broke out in the forest limits of Ayun union council was extinguished by Rescue team.
The forest fires, in lower Chitral where there is a natural forest cover, have dramatically increased over a decade. From the reports, fire in forests either allegedly caused due to the labourers working in cutting trees in forest or chemicals were used to fire forests. Former allegation seems to be unintentional and latter as an intentional act of torching fire. Another report alleges people involved in illegal cutting of trees in the area responsible for fire eruption must have business intentions causing these devastations.
There has been no report and findings made public about fire eruptions in the forest of Chitral till now. Do these forest fires erupt due to increasing temperature? It is something urgently needed to explore. In case, climate stress is not the potential reason for forest fires, what are the why factors in it and who are they?
Not only Pakistan but also Chitral has been at heavy risk of climate-related devastations causing from unusual rainfalls, flash floods and dry weather patterns. Fires in scanty and precious forest cover in lower parts of Chitral have become more alarming given the environmental problems and shortage of fuelwood as forest cover dramatically shrinks in every passing year and torching of forests increases.
In Chitral, contributing to mitigate climate change and government’s resolve for forestation, and protecting existing forest cover must be prioritized. A thorough investigation is needed in finding out either the very causes of forest fires or culprits behind them. This problem needs serious efforts beyond dousing forest fires.