Russia endemic wildfires: What is fueling Russia’s ‘unprecedented’ fires?

Thousands of wildfires engulf large areas of Russia every year, destroying forests and covering territories in acrid smoke.

Northeast Siberia experienced especially great Fire this summer amid record-setting heat. Many other areas across the vast country have also faced wildfires.

These are some of the factors behind Russia’s endemic wildfires and their consequences.


In recent years, Russia has recorded high temperatures that many scientists consider an obvious result of climate change. The hot weather has melted the permafrost and caused an increasing number of fires.

Siberia’s vast Sakha-Yakutia region has seen record temperatures this year during long periods of hot weather. The fires there have so far burned more than 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of land, making it the hardest-hit area in Russia.

The fires have enveloped Yakutia’s cities, towns and villages in thick smoke, forcing authorities to halt all flights at the regional capital’s airport. NS Ministry of Defense of Russia deployed its transport planes and helicopters to help put out the flames.

Fedot Tumusov, a member of the Russian parliament who represents the region, called the fire “unprecedented”.


The forests that cover large areas of Russia make tracking and quickly detecting new fires a difficult task.

In 2007, a prominent federal airline network was disbanded and its assets transferred to regional governments. The highly criticized change led to the program’s rapid deterioration.

Years later, the Russian government reversed course and re-established the federal agency responsible for monitoring forests from the air. However, its resources are still limited, making it difficult to survey the extensive forest lands in Siberia and the Russian Far East.


While some wildfires are sparked by lightning, experts estimate that more than 70% of wildfires are caused by humans.

Often it’s just a cigarette butt or an abandoned campfire, but there are other causes as well.

Authorities regularly conduct controlled burning, setting fires to clear the way for new vegetation and eliminating unplanned wildfires. But observers say such intentional burnings are often poorly managed and sometimes trigger massive wildfires instead of helping to stop them.

Farmers across Russia also use the same technique to burn grass and small trees because of regulations that fines them for leaving them on farmland. Such burns often occur out of control.


Activists and experts say fires are often deliberately set to cover up evidence of illegal logging or to create new sites for logging under the pretext of clearing out burned area.

Activists in Siberia and the Far East allege that the majority of such arsons are linked to companies selling timber to a huge Chinese market and call for a complete ban on timber exports to China. .

Officials have acknowledged the problem and pledged to tighten surveillance, but Russia’s remote territory allows illegal activity to continue.

Critics point out that the 2007 forest law also delegated control to regional governments and businesses, eroding centralized oversight, fostering corruption, and contributing to tree-cutting practices. allowed to cause a fire.


Russian law allows authorities to set fires in certain areas if the potential damage is deemed not worth the cost of extinguishing the fires.

Critics have long appreciated the provision, arguing that it encouraged inaction and slowed firefighting efforts, so the fire could have been extinguished at a comparable cost. Small objects are usually allowed to burn uncontrollably.

Greenpeace’s Mikhail Kreindlin said: “ In the end they had to put it out, but the damage and cost were incomparable.


Wildfires don’t just destroy trees; They also kill wildlife and can have consequences for human health by polluting the air.

Carbon emissions from fires and the destruction of forests, which are the main source of oxygen, ultimately contribute to global warming and potentially catastrophic effects on the planet.

According to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist in Siberia, this year’s fires have released more carbon than fires in a number of years before. Europe’s Medium Range Weather Forecast Center.

Parrington says the peat fires common in Siberia and many other parts of Russia are particularly harmful in terms of emissions because peat has absorbed carbon for tens of thousands of years.

“ Then it releases all that carbon back into the atmosphere, he said.

While pledging to comply with the Paris agreement on climate change, Russian officials often emphasize the important role Russian forests play in slowing global warming. However, frequent wildfires have the opposite effect, dramatically increasing carbon emissions.

Greenpeace’s Kreindlin said: “ They emphasize that large areas are covered with forest but ignore the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from fires. | Russia endemic wildfires: What is fueling Russia’s ‘unprecedented’ fires?


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