European Wilderness Society

Not only the Amazon is burning

The wildfires in the Amazon are a ‘hot’ topic on the news and social media. After the fires were almost for two weeks going unnoticed, international attention and pressure resulted finally in action. Military and support from other countries are on their way to stop the fires that are destroying many hectares of the valuable rainforest. But did we forget that earlier this month wildfires were burning their way through Russian Siberia? The World Meteorological Organisation even spoke of ‘Unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic’. What is supposed to be the coldest place on our planet, is burning too. As are thousands and thousands of other places, as we see on the Fire Information for Resource Management System webpage from NASA.

Please also read: Wildfires rage across Europe

Natural fires

Fire plays an important role in many ecosystems. They may trigger specific plant species to start growing. They can boost fresh sprouting grass with nutrients from ashes. But the rate and intensity of wildfires has been dramatically increasing over the last years. With higher temperatures, due to our overheating climate, fires are now common in places that have never seen wildfires for years.

In Brandenburg, Germany, the biggest forest fire since the 1970’s broke out last June. Other forest fires appeared and over 350 kilometres, ashes and smoke dispersed. The year 2019 is a forest fire record year for Germany. Other countries are struggling too, including Spain and France. Just a few days ago, about 9,000 people were evacuated as wildfires started raging through Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. These fires have entered the Tamadaba Natural Park, where some of the island’s oldest pine forests grow. In entire Europe, there were already eight times more forest fires than normal.

Human triggered fires

The extreme hot and dry spring and summer have increased the risk for forest fires dramatically. With the slightest mistake, people are able to start a forest fire that is soon out of control. When you go out camping and you want to use a fire, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  • There are many alternatives for cooking, where you do not need to make a fire. Use camp stoves when you can.
  • In case you make a fire, make sure it is allowed and safe. Build or use a ring of stones around the fire and keep your fire small.
  • When you are done, make sure that you burnt all the wood completely, and there are no smouldering pieces left.

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