Forest fires cause severe damage to the forests and environment. The biodiversity including plants, trees, insects, eggs of birds and reptiles, small animals etc get destroyed. The destruction and exposure of soil causes more rain water to flow away taking with it invaluable soil causing severe erosion and degradation . This also results in poor infiltration of rain water into soil reducing ground water recharge. Further rains are received less on account of loss of forest cover and also affects climate change resulting in erratic weather. 99% of fire incidents are man made to allow fresh grass to appear, to collect non timber forest produce such as honey, antuwala, Nelli kai, etc etc. Some fires are made by miscreants with the hope of getting the local forest staff punished and some are made by some selfish people who claim that they have mobilised their people and controlled forest fire and seek local/ foreign funding. It is very important that awareness is created among the people living in fringe villages about the necessity to protect the forests from fire, for their own welfare ie to ensure better rain and better crop yields and better environment. This is more effectively done by third party or volunteers from public. Last year some NGOs and Volunteers went to Wildlife areas and interacted with the local people and requested them to pledge not to put fire in forests and in case fire is seen, to go and help department in extinguishing the fire. The program was extremely successful and Department could achieve zero fire last summer in BRT, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Bannerghatta National Park, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, Bhadra Tiger Reserve, etc.
Thus the volunteer program was very effective and it was a win win situation as we provided free accommodation and free safari to the volunteers and the objective of saving forests was accomplished.
Hence department requests volunteers to come forward, go to the fringe villages during weekends and interact and create awareness among them to protect forests from fire, encroachment, destruction, etc and also take pledge from them to protect forests for their own welfare.
Further Karnataka Forest Department also request all the citizens to volunteer and come forward to help the department in preventing, detecting and extinguishing the fire in the forests and around during the fire season which commences from January to May. Department will be grateful for this.