The Risk Assessment Study of Potential Forest Fire in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary using RS and GIS Techniques

Ajin R.S., Ana-Maria Loghin, Mathew K. Jacob, Vinod P.G., Krishnamurthy R.R.

Abstract


In recent years, forest fires have become a major disaster in many countries of the world because of their impact on biodiversity, landscape, health, environment, ecology and economy. Forest fires are one of the major natural hazards occurring in the forests of the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot in India. The present study aims to demarcate the risk zones of potential forest fire in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary using integrated Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques. Every year, during March-May months, the forests in this area are affected by severe fires. In order to generate the fire risk zone map of the study area, a thematic study was carried out on each of the influencing factors viz. land cover type, slope, distance from settlement, distance from road, and elevation. A Fire Risk Index method was used to prepare the risk zone map. The area of the final map was grouped into five different categories of risk zones, viz. very low, low, moderate, high, and very high. Finally the risk zone map was validated with the fire incidence data for the last 10 years. Results of this study show that the most important factors which contribute to fire ignition are the human induced factors, also known as the anthropogenic factors. The resulting map of forest fire risk zone can be of great benefit for understanding the fire problem and will offer a more effective database for the preparation and control of forest fires.


Keywords


Fire Risk Index; Natural Hazards; Biodiversity; Western Ghats

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