Two environmental experts from the US will soon be working on a project to study the forest fires of Uttarakhand and their impact on invertebrates (animals with no spine).
Dr Valerie Banschbach and Marwood Larson-Harris – both from Roanoke College, Virginia – will conduct the study in association with the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, and are expected to take four to five years to complete it.
Raging forest fires have destroyed about 4,200 hectares of green cover in Uttarakhand this summer, besides affecting animal and human populations.
Valerie, who occasionally visits the WII, told HT, “I studied wildfires in Vermont, where government burns oak and pine forest every year. Burning reserve forest is legal there. Contrarily, India is very strict about its forest. (It leads to) continuous growth of pine trees and its needles, resulting in huge fires. I’ll conduct the study on impact of the fire on small animals – insects, ants, invertebrates – to understand the ecology.”
Stressing on the need to burn forests, she said it’s a healthy practice in US countries which help in regeneration of fresh vegetation and clearing of combustible pine needles.
Marwood, who has extensively worked on pine trees, is likely to propose mitigation options to the state government through the project to control wildfires.