Why are forests burning in Russia?

Photo: Avialesoohrana press service

A month ago, there was a problem with the Astrakhan biosphere reserve. One of its sections caught fire – the Damchiksky, where rare birds usually nest – pelicans, white-tailed eagles and swans, boosters, black storks, flamingos stop in flight. And the lotus blooms here – the main pride of these places.

The fire was resisted by the reserve personnel. With the help of special equipment – motor boats with motor pumps, they extinguished the fire, which only intensified due to the stormy wind. They were burning dry reeds, which due to the shallowness of the Caspian Sea had grown innumerable. Fortunately, the fire was extinguished and did not damage the valuable flora and fauna. But the reed did not catch fire on its own, it was set on fire by one of the locals. For what reason? And probably out of habit. We have such a bad way in Russia – to burn dry grass.

According to statistics, every year the country loses about 100 thousand hectares of forest and 90 percent of forest fires are caused by humans. In other words, we destroy natural wealth with our own hands. The situation must change radically. And this is one of the main tasks of the national project “Ecology”.

Photo: Avialesoohrana press service

Photo: Avialesoohrana press service

Fire is a huge problem.– HE SPEAKS Associate Dean of the Forest School of the Mytishchi Branch of the Moscow State Technical University. Bauman Vladimir Lipatkin. – We are losing a huge amount of wildlife, the bio-balance of the environment is being disturbed. This leads to a reduction in biodiversity. In the irreparable expulsion of animals from their usual habitats, even in the loss of certain types of populations. In addition, even after a small fire, nature will take many years to recover.


Responsible for the forest firefighting program of the Society of Volunteer Forest Firefighters Gregory Cuxin fights fires for over 20 years. He knows from experience that in Russia the peaks are in late April-May and July-August.

– In spring, mainly fields, soils, road edges, steppes are burned, – explains Gregory. – The percentage of forest fires is small. But due to the fact that the wind quickly disperses the fire in open spaces, forests are often threatened. As well as holiday villages and residential buildings in villages and hamlets. This is due to the burning of the grass. But arson is different.

First. Burning grass on agricultural land. This is prohibited by law. But not all farmers want to spend energy and fuel to plow the lawn according to all the rules. Better to burn it. The fact that it is very dangerous, they understand in their skin, when the fire destroys buildings, farms, animals and even people.

Second. In the spring, foresters are called upon to burn small strips along the forests to prevent the fire from spreading. Exhaustion must be carefully controlled, but there is not always enough money for fuel, additional prices and technical equipment. Therefore, there are times when gusts of wind scatter the fire in the forest.

Third. False traditions. People burn grass because “this is how the family always did it. And why, for what? I do not know”.

And for the summer peak there are reasons for forest fires. We will definitely talk about them in more detail later. We only add that during this period, 10-30 percent (depending on the region) of fires are caused by storms, the intensity of which increases from year to year.

Photo: Avialesoohrana press service

Photo: Avialesoohrana press service


According to Nikolai Krivosheev, head of the FBU Avialesookhrana, in order to prevent large-scale fires in the areas, work is being carried out: installation and cleaning of clearings, fires, installation of metal fire protection strips, cleaning and updating.

– One of the most important areas for fire prevention is the continuous informing of the population at federal and regional level about the dangers of unauthorized burning, about the forecasts of fire risk in forests, forest fires and the causes of their occurrence, the rules of fire safety in forests and adjacent areas, forest lands, existing forest regimes and, in general, the need to respect nature, – completes Nikolai Krivoseev.

In addition, the country has a system for monitoring and detecting forest fires. It operates in three areas: ground and air patrols and space surveillance. This is necessary for the 24-hour monitoring of the situation of forest fires and the coordination of the activities of the regional forest departments for the elimination of forest fires.


FBU “Avialesookhrana” and regional air defense bases use direct and indirect fire-fighting methods.

Immediate – this is a direct effect on the edge of a forest fire:

– using back fire extinguishers,

– throwing fire on the ground,

– whipping with improvised means,

– creation of a mineralized zone. This is a strip the width of a bayonet or two bayonets. It is pierced by hand in the metallic layer of the earth that is resistant to fire, releasing it completely from the roots of the plants.

Indirect ways:

reverse annealing from the reference zone. Used when the flame is high and it is hot and dangerous to approach the edge of the fire. The forest firefighters move away from the front, put a strip of minefields and launch impending fire from it. When two fires meet, they extinguish each other.

– artificial rainfall. Yes, any fire on the ground. It can not be extinguished by air. However, there are exceptional cases where a special cloud drop can cause heavy rainfall. The rain, according to the calculations of the pilot-observers, is caused taking into account the wind, so that they fall on the fire. The accuracy of the method is 75 percent. The rain helps to reduce the intensity of the burning, the firefighters approach the edge and extinguish the fire.

– Fires are extinguished with water using Mi-8 and Mi-26 helicopters. The MI-8 helicopter can take up to five tons of water, the MI-26 – up to 15 tons.

– in emergency situations, tanker aviation is used – Il-76 (up to 40 tonnes of water), BE – 200 (up to 12 tonnes of water)


The work for the restoration of forests is carried out in the framework of the federal project “Conservation of forests” of the national project “Ecology” and the campaign “Save the forest”. It is important to help nature quickly restore the resources lost due to fires.

– You can, of course, leave restoration at the mercy of nature itself, – HE SPEAKS Head of the Department of Science and Perspective of Forest Development of Rosleskhoz Vladimir Dmitriev, – but it is a long process. Therefore, artificial landings are necessary. Most of the work is done by our tenants. Loggers are required to plant new seedlings in clearings. They also compensate for the losses of companies that cut down forests due to the construction of mechanical installations or the installation of power lines. Another direction is voluntary movement. In the spring we organize the “Garden of Memory” campaign, in the fall – “Save the Forest”. By the way, last year, despite the pandemic, about 2 million people took part in the protests.


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