Yakutia forest fires: Greenpeace does not expect improvement until mid-August

  • Daria Napeeva, Oksana Chizh
  • BBC

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Photographer, Forest Protection Service / TASS

Forest fires have been going on in Yakutia for more than a month. The fire has destroyed more than 1.5 million hectares of forest and the situation is unlikely to improve significantly by mid-August, according to Greenpeace.

According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, as of July 20, there are 205 natural fires in Yakutia – about half of all natural fires in Russia.

The area of ​​active fires in Yakutia exceeds 2.1 million hectares. Particularly protected natural areas are burned, in particular, the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site – Lena Pillars National Park.

Last week, the republic’s capital – the city of Yakutsk – was shrouded in smog. Due to the heavy smoke, the works of Yakut airport and the navigation on the river Lena were suspended. On the morning of July 20, the concentration of pollutants in the air of Yakutsk exceeded the norm by 1.33-2 times.

“The situation is worse than a year ago”

According to Greenpeace estimates, the total area of ​​forest fires in Yakutia since the beginning of this year amounted to 3.5 million hectares. Since the turn of the century, a large area between January 1 and July 20 was covered by fire last year alone (3.9 million hectares), but environmentalists do not rule out that record volumes of forests may eventually be destroyed in democracy. year.

“It’s too early to make a prediction, but now the situation in Yakutia is worse than it was a year ago – the area of ​​fires is even smaller, but they are growing faster. Therefore, it is very likely that this year will end. “It’s a record year for Yakutia,” said Alexei Yaroshenko, head of Greenpeace’s forestry department.

The sharp increase in the area of ​​forest fires in Yakutia this year began around June 20, which is about the average multi-year period of large fires in the area, says Yaroshenko. But the current situation, he said, is exacerbated by a severe drought, in which fires are growing faster and harder to put out.

Photographer, Forest Protection Service / TASS

photo caption,

The fire has also spread to Lena Pillars National Park.

“There are not enough forces to respond quickly to the fires due to the catastrophic underfunding of the forest forces that were transferred to the area and if the extinguishing is delayed for at least one or two days, then the fire, as a rule, is already growing. on such a scale that in dry weather it may be impossible “, he explains.

Grigory Kuksin, head of Greenpeace’s fire department, also said that only rainfall could help put out the forest fires in Yakutia, which means the situation in the area is unlikely to improve until mid-August.

“The prognosis is bad, the smoke situation only depends on the weather, if we are talking about Yakutia. Large areas in Yakutia have already been engulfed by fires. Only rain will help here. It is unlikely to improve until mid-August.” , he told Interfax.

Photographer, Forest Protection Service / TASS

Greenpeace warns that the effects of repeated forest fires are that old forests, along with a considerable biodiversity, are disappearing and replaced by young forests and open spaces, which dry out and are blown away by the wind much faster. As a result, they burn even louder and fires spread faster over large areas.

“That is, the more the taiga burns, the more favorable conditions are created for new catastrophic fires and the faster the forest landscapes are degraded. And the relationship with climate change is about the same: the more forests are burned, the more climate change due to carbon dioxide and soot emissions during fires and methane during permanent frost degradation, the more climate change and the more “It contributes to the development of fires,” Yaroshenko explained.

Photographer, 14.mchs.gov.ru

It is in climate change that the head of Yakutia, Aisen Nikolaev, sees the cause of the fires.

“It simply came to our notice then [лесных пожаров] One is global climate change, they happen, we see it getting warmer every year in Yakutia. “We are now living in the hottest, driest summer in the history of meteorological observations in Yakutia since the late 19th century,” Yakutia 24 television channel said on Tuesday.

In the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, 27 natural fires in an area of ​​about 56 thousand hectares have been eliminated in Yakutia. The Russian Ministry of Defense aviation is also involved in extinguishing the burning forests in the area.

Photographer, Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations / TASS

photo caption,

Karelia forests are also threatened by fires

The era of natural fires has begun not only in Yakutia, but also in Karelia, Kamchatka, Irkutsk, Chelyabinsk and Magadan.

In Karelia, where the head of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations Yevgeny Zinichev arrived on Tuesday, this year, according to Greenpeace estimates, proved to be a record year since the beginning of the century in terms of the area covered by forest fires – 19 thousand hectares.

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