Out of the many hazardous events that occurs in
Seychelles, forest or bush fires are very common. And it is very difficult to fight and very dangerous also.
Forest/ bush fires are uncontrollable fires that take place in isolated areas.
Causes of Forest/bush fires in Seychelles (source of fire):
• Causes of forest/bush fires in the Seychelles is mostly by human activities, this can be careless such as not putting out a fire completely after any burning activity (Domestic burning) , dropping a lit cigarette butt, uncontrolled burning especially on farm land near forest area, Nuisance such as kids playing with matches, harvesting of honey using smoke.
• Natural causes e.g. lightning has not been recorded
How does it spread?
There are many Factors that contribute to how a forest fire will spread and how intense the fire will be.
• Weather; the weather has a large impact on how the fire will spread, fires are much more likely to start and spread during drought (south east monsoon). When the grass and plant are dry, the strong winds will also help a fire to spread and move quickly. The temperature (how hot it is and (humidity) how dry the air is will also impact how well the fire will spread.
• Fuel; fire need fuel to burn, the type of fuel will impact how quickly the fire will spread as well as how intense it will be, in Seychelles our dense palm forest and mix vegetation cover create the perfects fuel to be consumed by fires.
• Topography, the topography is the shape and features of the land where the fires is burning , fires tend to move faster uphill’s, fire spread quickly up steep slope on side of mountain and hill, this condition suite Seychelles context well.
Effects of Forest/bush fire
• Loss of valuable timber resources
• Loss of biodiversity and extinction of plants and animals
• Degradation of catchment area
• Loss of natural regeneration and reduction of forest cover • Loss of carbon risk resources and increase in percentage of CO2
• Change in micro climate of the area with unhealthy living condition
• Soil erosion affecting productivity of soils and production of ozone layer depletion
• Health problem leading to disease
• Loss of lively hood for rural people
How do firefighters put them out?
Forest/bush fire can be extremely difficult to put out or control, forest fire can be easily change direction, and can jump over natural boundary such as cliff, roads and rivers, in Seychelles we lack trained fire fighters.
However the main technique employ by fire man and forestry personnel are:
• Indirect attack; one best way to stop a fire is to get rid of the fuel (trees, grasses. Leaves twigs ) e.c.t that is helping it to burn, firefighters will remove fuel in a line ahead of where the fire is advancing, this line is called a fire break can be of different width from 3 meter and above, when the fire reaches the firebreak its run out of fuel and stop spreading.
• Direct attack; spraying water, smothering or physically separating burn from not burn fuel, beating up ambers and or covering hot ambers with soil, in any circumstances both method are apply systematically.
Forest/bush fires contribute to climate change and climate change in return has an effect on the risk of forest fires. As it affects the frequency of a fire starting and the total area that can be burnt will also increase due to that, we may have longer fire season, drier conditions which will create more fuel for forest fire, and their also an increased frequency of lighting especially for farmers.
Public education is probably the most important activity in forest fire prevention, people of all ages must be educated on how fires are started, the destruction they cause, its economic impact, and the important of reporting fire no matter how small.
Remember it always depend on you to prevent a forest fire from starting!
Mr. Cliff Alissop
Senior Disaster management officer