Balewa: With the onset of dry season, wildfires have been rampant in Baglung district. Bushfires have engulfed five national and 17 community forests destroying around 450 hectares of forest area and they continue, according to the division forest office, Baglung.
A wildfire broke out at the Chhahara Mathure forest in Tamankhola Rural Municipality in the district on February 1 burning down 200 hectares of forest land. Forest fires have taken place in five forests in Jamaini Municipality, three in Badigad, two in Kathekhola and one each in Tamankhola, Nisikhola and Bareng Rural Municipalities and one in Dhorpatan Municipality, said division forest officer Mukunda Prasad Adhikari. Forests have spanned 105,501 hectares of land in the district. Out of the total forests, 527 are community ones, eight private and the remaining national, said assistant forest officer Madan Kandel. Community forests spread 33,909 hectares of land.
Most of forest areas have been at risk of bushfires, said Adhikari, adding that forest fires may continue until rainfall. “Dried tree leaves and firewood that remained without forest fires last year have put entire forests at risk as they easily catch fire. It has become increasingly difficult to douse the bushfires,” he said.
Preventive measures like creating awareness among people, providing training on constructing firelines, and preventive and safety equipment to fight fire are underway, he said. Causing forest fires is subject to punishment in the country. One causing bushfires is subject to the misappropriated amounts recovered, three years in prison, Rs 60,000 in fines or all of them.