Nationwide assessment of forest burnt area in India using Resourcesat-2 AWiFS data

This study provides application of Resourcesat-2 AWiFS satellite imagery for forest burnt area assessment in India. AWiFS datasets covering peak forest fire months of 2014 have been analysed. The total burnt area under vegetation cover (forest, scrub and grasslands) of India was estimated as 57,127.75 sq. km. In 2014, 7% of forest cover of India was affected by fires. Of the major forest types, dry deciduous forests are affected by the highest burnt area, followed by moist deciduous forests. Among the biogeographic zones, the highest forest burnt area was recorded in Deccan followed by North East and Western Ghats. The highest burnt area was recorded in Odisha followed by Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Manipur and Karnataka. Spatial analysis shows that 232 grid cells in India have a burnt area greater than 20 sq. km. The database generated would be useful in ecological damage assessment, fire risk modelling, carbon emissions accounting and biodiversity conservation.

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