Wildfires in Russia: much worse than you could imagine

Wildfires in Russia: much worse than you could imagine

According to analysis of recent satellite data, forest fires in eastern Russia currently cover more than 3.5 million hectares of forested land. An area larger than Belgium!

And the fire season in Russia isn’t over yet.

This year’s forest fires are close to becoming one of the most devastating in recent Russian history. Usually around 5 to 6 million hectares of forest burn in a year. Russian meteorologists say that this summer in Russia will be warm and dry – weather fire fighters hate.

Forest fires in Zabaikalsky region, Siberia, Russia. This land suffered from wildfires for years. © Greenpeace / Maria Vasileva

Fires and climate change

Russia is warming faster than the rest of the planet. According to a new report by Russia’s climate and environment agency, between 1976 and 2012 average temperatures in Russia rose 0.43°C (0.8°F) a decade – more than twice the global average of 0.17°C.

Extremely dry weather in Siberia is one of the impacts of climate change according to natural reserve rangers in Zapovednoye Podlemorye on lake Baikal. Wildfires release massive amounts of carbon which causes climate change which makes the fires worse. It’s a terrible cycle.

Dangerous extreme weather is on the rise in Russia  © Quartz | qz.com

As a result, we face forest fires in one of the largest forested region in the world – the Russian Boreal forest. It’s also one of the most ‘biologically outstanding’ places in the world, home to a range of species – from wolves and brown bears to golden eagles and siberian accentors. These species suffered when a forest fire almost entirely engulfed the natural reserve in Baikal three days ago.

 Aerial image of Siberian taiga, also known as boreal forest, near Surgur. © Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

What can you do?

The Greenpeace Wildland Fire Program (WFP) trains volunteers to suppress wildfires. They are motivated to stay at the forefront of the peat, grass and forest fires around Baikal. We shared our experience with the local groups which helps them be much more effective than the official forest management bodies. They are thankful that you can help Greenpeace Russia promote this underreported story about the real scale of the forest fires in Siberia.

Greenpeace and local volunteers suppress peatfires in Central Ecological Zone of the Baikal Natural Territory (UNESCO Site), Republic Buryatia, Siberia, Russia © Greenpeace / Maria Vasileva

Forest management in Russia is in crisis. State foresters and fire fighting services don’t have enough resources, like experienced fire fighters, foresters and equipment. That’s why they try to hide the problem and to understate the scale. That’s why Greenpeace Russia’s main goal is to not let the government hide wildfires.

We need your support to make this problem world-known, so that the Russian government can’t ignore wildfires anymore. Please share this blog!

Khalimat Tekeeva is a Press Officer with Greenpeace Russia.

Source: Green peace

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