Forest and grassland fires have been a common phenomenon in the history of the world. Scientists argue that they are necessary for balancing natural ecosystems. For this cause, some fires have been lit under controlled mechanisms and have been healthy to the environment. It is, however, necessary to note that the kind of fires witnessed in this decade is far much more than what the ecosystem requires. Some are big fires while some are small, but the impact has been huge. These impacts have left most governments and the world at large devastated due to the level of unpreparedness of some. The globe has witnessed fires burning for weeks and months with the world’s inability to put them out.

Causes of Wildfires

While there are many versions of what is thought to have caused these fires, you must pay attention to these two causes.

Human-caused fires.

Many investigations have linked most fires to have erupted due to human activities. Such activities include charcoal burning within or in the forest and grassland neighbourhoods. The fires have gone wild and out of control of man. Some have been due to motorcar engine trials in risky areas. Some have been lit on purpose among many other reasons you may think of. This is the main cause of most of the fires experienced on the planet.

Self-lit Fires

Apart from fires lit by humans, this decade has experienced many fires that are self-lit. The question you must be asking yourself is how this happens. From your primary science, you must have studied how convex lenses concentrate rays together causing fires? Good. This is the same phenomenon happening here. Sun’s rays passing through a raindrop concentrate rays together leading to fires. But why should this case be rampant in this present day? The answer is global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on 9th August 2021, the planet has become warmer in this particular century compared to the last centuries. The impacts have become worse between 2008-2021, a period that has recorded the worst cases of wildfires. The report suggests that the 1.5 degrees global warming limit will be exceeded in the next decade which makes the impacts of climate change dreadful.

Extent of Wildfires

The statistics presented include data from the Forest Fire Information System. The data compares the extent of wildfires in certain countries over an overage of 12 years between 2008-2021 and that of 2021 alone.

Country 2021 Alone 2008-2020 Average
Italy 53,797 Ha 40,781 Ha
France 22,807 Ha 9,283 Ha
Romania 18,620 Ha 16,082 Ha
Bosnia & Herzegovinia 25,583 Ha 30,199 Ha
Tunisia 17,599 Ha 6,257 Ha

However, the most serious cases were recorded in Russia. The Russian government declared a state of emergency after a fire that erupted in July 2021 alone and still frustrates government efforts to date has destroyed more than 1.3 million hectares of forest and grasslands so far.

On the other hand, the US and Canada have experienced a fire destroying more than 1.8 million hectares of forest and grasslands. In 2021 alone, Canada has recorded more than 4891 fires both small and big. Some of these fires have been manage while some have burnt down vegetation completely. South America on the other hand has had 267 major fires that have destroyed more than 105,000 hectares. Nearly 75% of the area was recorded in the Brazilian Amazon.

The world experienced the worst case of forest fire in Australia between 2019 and 2020. the fire destroyed more than 10 million hectares and killed more than 1billion wildlife. Kenya on the other hand lost more than 80,000 hectares in March 2019 around Mt Kenya conservancy. In addition, another fire erupted in Tsavo National Park in 2020 that ravaged more than 4000 acres.

Summing up these statistics show huge chunks of forest land have been destroyed by fires whose causes have been discussed above. The call is for all to arise and lay down proper strategies to mitigate and worst-case scenario adapt to the alarming impacts. Governments and concerned parties must put in place urgent all-inclusive strategies.