In 2021, Russia faced an unprecedented magnitude of forest fires – more than 17 million hectares of forest were burned, six of them in Yakutia. In the Far East, 34 houses were destroyed by fire in the village of Byas-Kyuyol, the Lena Pillars nature reserve was set on fire on 12 August, the air pollution in Yakutsk exceeded the WHO recommended parameters by 247 times and the smoke from the fire North Pole in February, the authorities at the highest level talked about the measures that must be taken to prevent a repeat of last year’s situation.
In the Far East, it erupted even before the start of the calendar summer. Since the beginning of the year, 1,645 natural fires have been recorded in the Federal District of the Far East, the total area already covered by fire is over 330 thousand hectares. To the anti-leaders in terms of the number of fires, Primorsky Krai: 530 fires totaling 64 thousand hectares, as far as the Amur region area – burned to an area of more than 152 thousand hectares, but there were less than 366 outbreaks. People coped, the rains helped periodically. However, the long-term weather forecast says the summer will be hot.
In early May, forest fires became the main topic of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In it, the head of Russia’s largest region – Yakutia – said he could not cope without help from the sky and that it was necessary to cause more rain. To do this, it is necessary to make additions to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation. The fact is that, according to the law, they are called artificially only to extinguish forest fires. But when the forest starts to burn in an area like Yakutia, where there are no roads or people for thousands of kilometers, it is already difficult to stop it, but you can work in front of the curve, said the leader of the republic, Aisen. Nikolaev. His arguments were heard and a few days later a sonar from the Roshydromet flew to Yakutia and a week later, another. Now in Yakutia they are almost certain that last year’s situation, when 8 million hectares were burned, will not happen again.
“When preparing for the fire season, we took into account as much as possible the mistakes and shortcomings we had in previous years. We managed to double the staff of the forest fire services. We have now multiplied the number of hours of air to watch to put out forest fires. We made the material and technical equipment, which helped us prepare for the season as much as possible “, said the head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Aisen Nikolaev in an interview with the State Television and Radio Company Sakha.
In addition, the head of Yakutia not only asked the federal center for help in the form of recording aircraft, but also offered to act as a pilot area, where they will test the rain plan before the fires and not after. In Yakutia, in the Far East, the largest “control zone” in terms of forests – almost 200 million hectares, here is also the largest stock of timber. And, let us remember, Yakutia is the largest region in Russia in terms of area, if it burns in democracy, then it really will not be easy to extinguish.
The Republican authorities are so confident of the positive experience of using sonar aircraft that they have already begun to build their own. To do this, they bought the necessary equipment from the state-owned company Rostec, which will be installed on Yakutia’s An-26 aircraft this summer. Already in the fall they want to test the dredging plane that belongs to the area.
In neighboring Transbaikalia, which last year was also among the top in the country in terms of area of fires, after the winter it immediately became hot: the steppe was burning, the forests were burning. Authorities in the area tried their best to prevent one person from entering the forest, as 9 out of 10 fires were caused by one person: the area introduced restrictions on visiting the forest, introduced a state of emergency and was still willing to pay from 40 to 50 thousand rubles for reports of incendiary grasses and forests. It only helped in part: the fires could not be avoided and the air force had to be used – at the same time there were up to eight aircraft in the sky over Transbaikalia! There were some casualties: tractor driver Sergei Komarov died in the firefighting and a firefighter from the fire brigade suffered life-threatening injuries during a hard-hitting Mi-8 helicopter landing at Mogochi Airport.
The head of the Trans-Baikal Territory, Alexander Osipov, obviously predicting that it would not be easy, lamented that the area did not have enough time to prepare for the fire-fighting season due to … floods. According to him, all the forces in the municipalities were thrown into the construction of dams and there were no forces and funds left for extinguishing measures.
By the way, earlier Alexander Osipov also had a federal initiative, proposing to force agricultural land users to put out fires themselves, which is the second leading cause of more serious forest fires.
“We would like to increase the responsibility and introduce control to those who use agricultural land and, consequently, to impose on them the obligation to prepare for the fire and to hold them accountable if they do not put out fires,” Alexander Osipov, the governor, suggested. of the Trans-Baikal Territory Vladimir Putin at a meeting on firefighting.
In order to bring at least one common denominator to the efforts to combat forest fires, the head of state instructed to set a target indicator on the basis of which it would be possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the work. There are many evaluation criteria: first, how much it burns – in square kilometers. second, the number of the same fires. The main person responsible for extinguishing fires in the area is the head of the area. By the way, this is one of the key changes this year. Task: halve the number of forest fires in Russia by 2030.
In addition to the responsibility, the governors were also given funding: this year, the federal center significantly increased the amount to protect forests from fire – 14.2 billion rubles (compared to 8.2 billion last year). Of this amount, 4.7 billion rubles. spent on air patrols, the number of hours will increase to 51,000. For 1.4 billion rubles, the number of paratroopers will increase to 1,400 people, another 1.2 billion rubles. will spend on increasing ground patrols. And only 3.2 billion rubles of this total will be allocated directly to extinguish forest fires. Based on these data, we can conclude that the authorities realized that prevention is cheaper than extinguishing. Yes, and more effective.
It will be easier to introduce an emergency regime: at the municipal level, a 25-hectare fire area is enough at the regional level – if the area attracts more than 70% of its forces and means to put out fires. At the same time, the federal emergency level can be declared even if only one issue is on fire (until this year, a state of emergency could be introduced if a fire were active in the territory of several areas simultaneously).
Meanwhile, forest fires, including in Russia, are called the most important environmental problem, which will worsen in the coming years and decades.
As of June 6, a firefighting season has opened in 82 areas of the country, while in two regions a state of emergency has been declared. From the Far East, fires were recorded in Yakutia, Kamchatka and Khabarovsk Territory.