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Satellite imagery reveals depleting Indian forest cover

Bangalore, India: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), India, revealed in its report that the forest fire destroyed over 3,500 hectare area (ha) of Nagarhole and 2,000 ha of Bandipur tiger reserve in the country.

The report titled ‘A rapid assessment of recent forest fires in Nagarhole and Bandipur tiger reserves,’ cited information gathered from various local sources about the locations and extent of forest patch burnt and active fires detected by MODIS sensor onboard TERRA and AQUA satellites of NASA (corrected for park boundary delineation errors) as well as an examination of RESOURCESAT satellite images available from the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).

Wildlife biologist and NTCA member, K Ullas Karanth said 6.1 per cent of the forest cover in Nagarhole was damaged. While, Bandipur tiger reserve lost 2,267 ha of forest which amounts to 2.6 per cent of its forest area.

“The satellite imageries underestimate fire incidents and burnt areas because of possible influences of cloud cover, heavy smoke and lack of satellite coverage at the time of fire incidents. However, I note that a few months later, better images are provided by both NRSC and NASA satellites, containing more accurate burnt area assessments. These usually are not sought and compared with assessments based on official reports,” said W Karanth.

The fire can’t be attributed to lack of financial and material resources (such as vehicles), timely availability of human resources such as staff and labour, as adequate funds are available now, he said in the report. The report stated lack of attention and preparedness in some forest ranges appears to be among the major reasons for the fire.

Source: Deccan Herald