According to space monitoring data, this year exceeded all the indicators of 2012, which last month remained an “unbeaten” record of the XXI century. The area covered by forest fires from the beginning of the year to September 16 – more than 18.13 million hectares, in 2012 was 18.11 million for the whole year.
We would see an even higher figure if we were to count all fires – grass fires, reed fires, tundra fires, where there is no forest fund. Last year we mapped all the fires for the year. It came out that in 2020 there were 27.75 million hectares of fires, and forest fires were 64% of them.
This year, we have not done such a map, although we are developing a tool that will automatically allow us to do this. We’ll be able to calculate the data for 2021 later, but based on the proportion of last year and given that the fires aren’t over yet, I would say the area would be about 30 million hectares. That’s comparable to the region of Italy or Poland.
What is it now?
The situation now is more or less standard for this time of year – its grass burning again. Usually, there is less grass burning in the fall than in the spring, but the area of fires is quite noticeable. First of all, the southern regions burn, and the most dangerous time of the year is the warm season.
Fire prevention of forests must rely on a whole system: on reliable information, which is almost non-existent; on normal forestry, which is also non-existent; on firefighting, which is practically non-existent. If all this is not changed, a simple increase in money will not help.
Fires are predictable
This year, unexpectedly, more people have joined the firefighting effort. On the one hand, it’s good to see that regional authorities have been open enough to admit that they’re not doing well, not enough people, that there was no fear of showing that there are problems.
On the other hand, it’s risky, and getting people involved shouldn’t be so spontaneous and unprepared. Yes, fires are a common affliction, but it’s an annual story. With the accuracy of a week or two, we can anticipate that there may not be enough people that help may be needed.
Volunteers need to be trained
Volunteers need to be trained so that their help is more qualified, safer. There are proven ways to recruit and organize people, train, equip and equip them. In many situations, a trained person will help, and an untrained person will hinder.
There are groups of volunteer forest firefighters in many regions, and they are willing to share their experiences.