Author(s): Saugat Bolakhe

Wildfires are raging in Nepal — climate change isn't the only culprit

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Nepal’s wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity, but it’s not just climate change to blame. Forest scientists say that Nepalis’ changing relationship with forests is also escalating the incidence of forest fire, but that better fire prediction and preparedness could minimize harm.


Climate models suggest that Nepal will face more-frequent drought conditions into the future and that this will probably make wildfires worse. However, mismanagement of forests is more likely to be behind the recent blazes, say researchers.


Pokhrel says that a smartphone-based forecast would reduce the chance of fires getting out of control and reaching the levels they did in 2021 and 2024. He and his team also surveyed locals and found that they would be better prepared to control local fires if they were informed at least a month in advance and were provided with tools such as fire trucks.

Pokhrel says that although the work of organizations such as ICIMOD is useful, the Nepalese government also needs to be more involved in fire management. Pokhrel says the government could harness the existing community forest stewardship model and improved forecasting to help with fire preparedness. Without such measures, signs are clear that “the lack of management of increasing forest cover can easily lead to another disaster”, he says.

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Hazards Wildfire
Country and region Nepal
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