The forest fire in Bandipur Tiger Reserve resulted in a great loss of forest wealth and biodiversity.
Forest fires pose a threat not only to forest resources and the environment but also to people and livestock in the area. To prevent outbreak of forest fires in the Western Ghats passing through the district, a unique Forest Plus programme has been launched.
The objective of Forest Plus is to sensitise people living in and around all forest divisions of Shimoga Circle about forest fires and how to prevent them.
The Forest Plus programme is carried out in coordination with the Forest Department and uses street plays, focus group discussions, posters and pamphlets to educate people. It aims to bring a change in the attitude of people changes to reduce forest fires.
Communications specialist V Dakshinamurthy said, “We work in educating people about how it is important to avoid forest fires in order to conserve the forest wealth. We operate in three levels — educate schoolchildren and the student community, educate the community at large, and impart knowledge on this issue to forest officials. Shimoga is the only district where the programme was launched which is slated for the next five years,” he said.
At the height of the dry season, between February and May, when the forests are drained of moisture and the deciduous forest floor is scattered with dry leaf litter, everything in the jungle is inflammable, he said. An amateur theatre group from Mysore stages street plays to create awareness on these issues.
“This programme is still in its infancy, and will take shape properly in the coming days,” said Smitha Bijjur, Chief Conservator of Forests, Shimoga.