Five of the top ten countries suffering wildfires right now are in Africa. Although social media and popular news outlets are constantly addressing the Amazon, wildfires in Africa and Russia are being overlooked.
Starting with the most notable, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, and it is currently ablaze. According to CNN, “more than 30 million people live in the amazon.” Even then, a new plant or animal species is discovered there nearly every two days. However, this isn’t enough to prevent farmers and cattle ranchers from clearing land to create crops and pastures for their animals to graze. The Amazon Rainforest is excellent at removing harmful CO2 molecules from the atmosphere. It is vital to our planet to have a large population of plants that provide not just oxygen but remove gasses that come from burning coal and natural gas (CNN). If the Amazon continues to burn, it could potentially start harming the planet and accelerating climate change, rather than reversing it.
Like the Amazon Rainforest, the Congo Basin Forest is at risk of wildfires. Currently, the number of wildfires affecting the surrounding area of the Congo Basin is more than five times as many fires as there are in the Amazon according to Big Think. With being the second-largest rainforest in the world, it carries the same amount of benefits to the earth’s atmosphere but could share the same fate. However, the good news is the majority of wildfires near the Congo Basin have been grasslands, which are commonly lit by farmers. This is seen as a benefit to the continent because it creates new land and grass for their animals to graze and control the population of parasites and scrub, according to Colin Beale of Quartz Africa. The act of burning the grasslands is widely accepted because the CO2 produced by the fires is absorbed by new grass growth and a rise in diverse mammal and bird communities is found in the area. While the Amazon Rainforest is directly being burned down, the Congo Basin is not at much of a risk of being affected.
The least talked about fire is the Siberian Forest wildfire in Russia. With more than 17 million acres of wilderness being destroyed in just two months, this wildfire is on track to be the worst Siberian forest fire on record according to Bloomberg. The wildfire has spread at such a rapid rate that smoke from the wildfires has spread to the western U.S., including Alaska and Washington (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). With little sight of it ending, Russia has declared a state of emergency in certain parts of the country and President Vladimir Putin has sent in the military to help combat the fire. According to NPR, President Donald Trump even offered the U.S. in fighting the wildfires. With clear action to combat the fires, the Siberian Forest should make a recovery deep in the future, however, they still need rainy weather to guarantee the forest’s safety.
Liam Meyer – Contributing Writer