NASA Comes to India’s Aid in Detecting Forest Fires

By TWC India Edit Team | 10 April 2019


India’s battle against forest fires is likely to get a shot in the arm, thanks to two new NASA-monitored satellites deployed over the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Uttar Pradesh. The satellites will keep an eye on any untoward forest fire incidents and will immediately notify PTR forest officials so that they can respond promptly to such incidents.

Joint director of Dehradun-based Forest Survey of India (FSI), Sushant Sharma, told The Times of India that these satellites, which are helmed by NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will send fire sensing data to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The ISRO, in turn, will share this information with the FSI. On receiving the update, the FSI will send fire alerts to affected forest regions in the country, including the team at PTR.

What will really come in handy is that the satellites will provide fire alerts and GPS locations, along with the exact longitude and latitude of the affected area. This will help the respective forest authorities to pinpoint the affected area with accuracy.

A digital map of PTR was also uploaded on the FSI website and the contact information of the forest officials concerned with this have also been provided on the site.

Of the two satellites, one is equipped with a high-resolution camera that can sense even small fires, and the other is capable of detecting only big fires, an official told TOI.

Information compiled by the FSI shows that forest fire incidents in the country have risen 49.32% in the past three years. The data also reveals that among all the states, Mizoram and Maharashtra recorded the most number of such cases.