The advent of spring brings with it a spate of forest fires across India every year. These incidents are on the rise, claiming lives, destroying infrastructure, prompting evacuations and devastating wildlife and habitats. An increasing population and extreme weather conditions magnify the impact of these incidents.

An early response to these increasingly complex events would not only help the local economies and communities but also protect wildlife. Using technology can help predict forest fires and plan relief measures in advance to reduce their occurrence and impact.

Using AI to predict forest fires

In March 2023, WWF-India partnered with Microsoft Philanthropies India for a unique project that strives to improve forest fire management in three key landscapes with the aid of technology.

How does it work?

The project proposes a new machine-learning framework that lays bare the distribution, occurrence, risk area, and spatiotemporal variation (changes through time and space) of forest fires across six locations in five Indian states (Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand). It will cover under three critical landscapes: Terai Arc Landscape (TAL), Western Ghats Nilgiri Landscape (WGNL) and Kangchenjunga  Landscape (KCL). 

This framework will help in understanding the characteristics, behaviour, ecological conditions and other contributing factors of forest fires in the project sites. It will analyse these characteristics with remote-sensing and spatiotemporal analysis to predict, characterise, and prevent forest fires. It will provide these insights to the respective state forest departments, which regularly deal with large fires so that they can prepare in advance. WWF-India would also train community members accordingly.


The result of the analysis will explain how effective current policies are, identify areas at risk, and help allocate resources for better fire management. The model can be adapted for use in varying topographies.

If you’re interested in exploring a similar partnership with WWF-India, please contact:
Bhaskar Lall

Director – Conservation Alliances