Forest Fires

| May 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Photo Credit: Cameron Strandberg, Wikimedia Commons

Forest fires are a true disaster in Kenya.There are two main causes leading to the infernos: natural and human. The natural ones are not a burden at all since nature has its own means of controlling its own contents.  Majority of the human causes are uncontrolled or unintentional caused by carelessness in handling fire in forests. Such include slash and burn, honey harvesters smoking beehives and people smoking cigars in the forests. Arsonists have also intentionally set our forests ablaze.

It’s unfortunate this happens even while Kenya is struggling to top up its forest cover from the current approximate 2% to the global recommended 10%. The fires surely destroy huge portions of our forests. 2011 was the International Year of Forests and 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. We cannot let the issue of forest conservation just go off our minds; as the years end while we are still talking of conservation. Therefore conservation enthusiasts have a lot of work to control forest fires in order to increase the vegetation.

The fires have an effect to wildlife. The specific effect of fire on animals depends on what kind of fire, the type of vegetation, and the individual animal. Larger animals generally survive more often than smaller ones, although a burrowed animal can escape to be burnt, usually it suffocates in the meantime. Many birds also thrive after a fire since seeds of many trees are dispersed.  Birds, like woodpeckers, take advantage of burned out trees to make nests or forage for dead insects. Insects usually do not survive fires well because their escape range is too small.  This can affect birds if the specific insects are a food source for the aviators.  Trees can benefit from the death of insects that reside in their trunks because some of them e.g. mountain pine beetle kill the trees in which they inhabit. In general, the fires destroy the natural habitat of living things.

Controlled forest fires have been used in rangelands to rejuvenate greener vegetation especially after a dry spell therefore getting fresh vegetation for herbivores like the impalas, Thompson gazelles, grants gazelles, and even larger ones like the zebras and buffaloes.

Past examples of forest fires have been recorded in many parts of Kenya over the years. The majorly remembered one is the euphorbia forest of Lake Nakuru National Park. This was the largest euphorbia forest in the region and losing it meant reduced scenery for this park.  Aberdare National Park also faced the challenge during the 2011 dry period. The Mau has been the other most renowned victim of this horrifying disaster. Other forests that have undergone this disaster include; Kabolet forest, Marmanet forest and Mount Kenya forest. In 2009 there was a serious destruction of the Mount Kenya forest thus affecting the rangeland of the endangered Mountain Bongo and exposing it to more threat of extinction.

Safety First

Then here comes a question, what should you do in the circumstance of a forest fire? First ensure that you are safe, since the safety of a rescuer is important. Then send alarms to alert people and relevant authorities for back up in putting out the fire. Several methods can be used to control a forest fire. They include; beating with branches, use of fire extinguishers, trenching, clearing vegetation tracts to end the fueling of the fire, watering, lighting another fire ahead to meet the previous one; and many more. Whichever the means we should do our best to stop any forest fires.

Surely we need to do something to ensure that we eradicate all uncontrolled human-caused forest fires and leave nature to control itself. That way we shall have done justice to Mother Nature and Kenya together with the whole world will enjoy a healthier tomorrow.

Category: Scholar's View

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