App predicts fire priority villages using remote sensing and GIS: Dr Qayum
[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 25: The ‘eForest Fire- Himalayan Forest Fire Prediction’ project- a mobile app and predictive modelling to mitigate forest fire incidences of Arunachal Pradesh- has been awarded the ‘Jury Award’ under Category-Ill ‘Excellence in district level initiative in e-Governance’ for the 23rd National Conference on e-Governance, scheduled to be held on 7 and 8 February at Mumbai, Maharashtra.
It is to be noted that the app provides fire points and helps identify fire-prone locations to help experts create preventive measures. Input is received from the mobile app eForest Fire. When people submit data, it can be seen in the webgis.co.in portal. However, it should not be considered as a real-time fire alert for all updates received through the app.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Chandigarh Dr Abdul Qayum, who initiated the project here when he was the District Forest Officer of Tawang, informed that the app gives information on current fire points.
“The project predicts fire priority villages using remote sensing and GIS (Geographical Information System)-based model by taking nine factors (Poverty, rainfall, temperature, slope, elevation, forest type, forest cover and population density) into account. Points which we get from the app are used to improve the prediction,” he said.
The DCF informed that they have identified 5280 villages in the state and predicted that 560 villages are highly fire prone.
“Most fire points are concentrated in villages under West Kameng district with 25 percent points,” he informed.
Explaining more about its working system, Dr Qayum informed that the app is specifically designed to work in offline mode considering the internet connectivity issues of the remote Himalayan state.
“If one wants to report a fire when there is no internet connectivity, one can choose from the options and click on ‘submit’. When they come within internet zone, it will shoot the information to its destination,” he said, adding that “if forest officials are in close proximity during an immediate fire alert, they can also provide assistance.”
While he said that the reporting system is very user friendly and one requires selecting from a few options and clicking on the submit button, there is a need for awareness amongst the public.
He, however, highlighted that the priority of the Forest Department is to identify fire-prone areas to help predict fires and that the mobile app is one component of it.
“The major part is trying to find the reasons for fire. Using the GIS, we have found the factors responsible for fires and have prioritised the areas on the basis of availability of these factors,” he said.
The department also correlated their findings of fire points with those of the Forest Survey of India, besides taking input from public and officials posted in different districts.
“We have found 560 priority villages using the GIS. When villages are known, we can ask the government to provide funds to these priority villages only,” he said, adding: “The government funds can be utilised to conduct studies for fire lines, which are precautionary efforts to protect an area that is less susceptible to fire from a wildfire nearby and stop it from spreading. We can also set up various watch towers, and watch and ward where there are high chances of fire; acquire more fire fighting equipment, and educate people on wildfire and on ways to avoid them.”
The project is expected to educate local masses in coming out of ill-practices of shifting cultivation and can be useful for the people residing in forest-fringe areas as early warning system during the event of fire break.
The cause of forest fire can be understood scientifically and things can be planned in accordance to minimize the forest fire losses.
With timely intervention and efficient information dissemination, the forest fire incidences reported this year were around 31 percent less in comparison of period before start of the project.
In 2017, a total of 6551 cases of forest fire were reported in the state while up to 7 December, 2019, fire incidences were limited to 4535 cases as reported by Forest Survey of India.
The Himalayan Forest Fire Predictive Modelling- eForest Fire Arunachal Pradesh has helped in limiting loss to the bio-diversity, flora-fauna, human life and public property.