Are Pine trees major source of forest fires ? Its people who burn trees. Recently I had a chance to visit Solan and read a local news paper. A news item in The Tribune Chandigarh date June 3rd 2012 reported a statement of forest official that Pine trees are responsible for forest fires. According to the Conservator of Forest Dharamshala circle Pine trees are major source of forest fires. According to him and some of his “ experts” the Governmane should ban future plantation of pine trees in the mid Himalayan region. This would reduce the percentage of Pine forest. What a solution to this problem. This is just like cutting the nose to spite the face. These so called experts have not even suggested a single tree to replace the Pine tree which should be equal in its commercial value as the Pine is . It is very well fact that nothing grows under a banyan tree or any big tree so why make Pine as an exception. The dried Pine needles could be collected and and used as a source of fuel by the local people. As suggested in the news paper itself the Government could help people to install briquetting machines. Technology is available for converting dried Pine needles into combustible bricks as done in the Solan district. If it can be done in Solan district why it cant be done elsewhere. Professor former Head Department of Botany, Punjab University has grossly objected to this statement since the experts have not suggested any substitute for the Pine. Pines are native to the northern hemisphere. They have also been introduced in sub tropical and temperate portions of southern hemisphere : Australia, South Africa, New Zealand , Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere where they are widely grown mainly for timber and turpentine oil. There are between 105 to 125 species of Pine world wide. Forest fires are also known to occur where there are no Pine trees. There is a need to expand the Pine cultivation as many animals and birds and squirrels feed on their seeds Forest people need to educate the locals not to burn the leaves in situ but to collect them and use them as a source of fuel for fire kilns and domestic needs. Moreover the Pine trees are able to sprout after forest fires. Pines are integral part of ecosystem on hills and our hill stations have pleasant climate because of Pine trees which block the hot winds of plains and keep the mountains cool. Already destruction of forests has raised the summer temperatures of Simla to 33 to 34 degrees in summers. The hill stations are becoming warm because of the removal of Pine trees from the outer lower ranges of the hills. There is need to grow more Pine trees rather to ban them.
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