Record-breaking temperatures registered in 2021 caused devastating fires which destroyed natural habitats and homes which in turn contributed to extreme economic damage. On Wednesday a special event at the World Forestry Congress in Seoul seeks to broaden the scope of wildfire management, beyond forests, to encompass infrastructure, health, transport, tourism, and other sectors impacted by damaging fires.
Natural fire seasons in many areas are being made worse by climate change, land use, lightning, drought, stronger than normal winds, higher temperatures and insufficient funds and human resources, some of which have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Currently, a wildfire is raging in Siberia, central Russia and without any outside help, it is consuming a large portion of the tundra.
Soldiers have traditionally played an important part in helping firefighters against wildfires in Russia.
Now, they are all in Ukraine and there’s no one to put out the wildfires currently raging in Siberia. pic.twitter.com/P25SjFWwVG
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) May 2, 2022
Can’t solve wildfire problem in a short period of time
According to Peter Moore, Senior Forestry Officer at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, “people are causing 90 percent of the fires”.
“The fire seasons we have been seeing are part of the new normal. Climate change is dealing us a difficult hand it is extending seasons. it is creating more extreme types of events, wind, dryness, and so on. but at the same time, these are things we have seen in the past,” Mr Moore said.
He added that “we can’t solve a particular set of fire issues in a particular country or part of a country in a few weeks or a few months. It is a few years before you understand those things. So the investment has to be tailored to that sort of activity and mobilisation of resources.”
Proper fire management
Damage caused by wildfires exacerbates other weather events like storms, floods, and landslides.
The cost of wildfire-induced damage exceeds all spending on wildfire management.
The panel experts said that globally, countries spend around 50 percent of wildfire management investment on wildfire response. Prevention planning receives only one percent of the budget.
Successful fire management does not mean the elimination of fires, it means minimising wildfire risks and preventing them from spiralling out of control.