Natural Hazards

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 203–217 | Cite as

Identifying triggers for forest fire and assessing fire susceptibility of forests in Indian western Himalaya using geospatial techniques

  • Sunil Kumar
  • Meenakshi
  • Gopal Das Bairagi
  • Vandana
  • Amit KumarEmail author
Original Paper


The western Himalayan forests have frequent forest fire that affect its forest wealth, biodiversity, ecology and environment. Ironically, there is a scarcity of a comprehensive and systematic effort to know its fire-sensitive forest regions. Therefore, the present study was carried out in Kangra region of Indian western Himalaya to identify suitable conditions for forest fire by overlaying geographical coordinates of recorded fire locations on various thematic layers such as elevation, slope, aspect, mean annual temperature and fuel map of the region. Based on suitability table, the regions with favourable fire conditions were extracted from above thematic layers in GIS environment. The fire-sensitive regions were further prioritized into very high, high, medium, low, and very low forest fire-prone areas. The Pinus roxburghii forest type, low elevation, high temperature, high slope, south-west facing aspect, May month and anthropogenic disturbances were identified as major factors responsible for forest fire in the region. The half of the forest cover was identified as fire sensitive. The 10.7 % of the forest cover in the study area was categorized as ‘very high’ and ‘high’ forest fire-prone areas. The 14.02 % villages of the region were identified as ‘high’ forest fire prone. The P. roxburghii, mixed forest species, khair forest (Acacia spp.) and oak forest (Quercus spp.) were identified as fire-sensitive forest types of the region.


Forest fire Buffer GIS Remote sensing Map Fire suitability Fire susceptibility Prioritization Kangra Village Tehsil 



The authors acknowledge the financial and infrastructure support provided by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Government of India under BSC-109 project. The Forest Survey of India and Himachal state forest department are acknowledged for forest fire-related information. The CGIAR-CSI, USGS, USA and Worldclim are acknowledged for DEM, LANDSAT and climatic data, respectively. Authors are also thankful to Dr. P. S. Ahuja, director, CSIR-IHBT and staff members of Biodiversity division of CSIR-IHBT for their support. This is CSIR-IHBT Communication No. 3615.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sunil Kumar
    • 1
  • Meenakshi
    • 1
  • Gopal Das Bairagi
    • 2
  • Vandana
    • 3
  • Amit Kumar
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.RS-GIS Laboratory, CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource TechnologyCouncil of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)PalampurIndia
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental StudiesKurukshetra UniversityKurukshetraIndia
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environment ScienceCentral University of Himachal PradeshDharamshalaIndia

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