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Over the past 20 years, in Russia forests have burned out more than in any other country in the world
18 August, 15:38
Over the past 20 years, in Russia forests have burned out more than in any other country in the world
Photo: Global Forest Watch
Since 2001, a forest the size of France has burned down in our country.

Over the past 20 years, Russia has lost more trees to fires than any other country in the world, according to The Guardian, citing a study by the World Resources Institute Global Forest Watch. In total, since 2001, we have lost about 53 million hectares of forest cover - about the same as France. By comparison, Canada lost half as much in the same period, about 27 million hectares.

The most affected on Earth are the taiga, or boreal, forests that surround the northern hemisphere, occupying parts of Scandinavia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Alaska and Canada. It is this region that accounts for about 70% of all loss of tree cover due to fires over the past 20 years - about 80 million hectares. These losses also worry experts because boreal conifers take centuries to regrow, and wildfires in these regions can release carbon deep into the soil. This creates a vicious circle: from carbon sinks that help slow down global warming, forests turn into their source.

In the taiga, fires occur more frequently than in other areas, since the northern forests heat up and dry out faster and become prone to fire because of this. It is known, for example, that the Arctic warmed up much faster than the rest of the planet. Abnormal summer heat has become more frequent in recent years in Siberia and northern Canada. Lightning strikes are considered to be the cause of 30-40% of taiga fires, the rest is the work of people. As the study says, forests are often caught in flames from grass fires, and this happens especially often in Russia, “where control is insufficient and law enforcement is absent”.

In the tropics, wildfires are also becoming more devastating. At the same time, almost all of them are started by people.

The area of forest cover lost annually to wildfires around the world has increased by about 3 million hectares since 2001. Last year's season was the worst on record, with a forest roughly the size of Thailand burned out. Or, another comparison, for every minute in the world a forest the size of 16 football fields burned down.