The burning issue, literally…!!!

Forest fires may seem like a negative thing but they’ve been around long before us humans.

But let’s first answer the burning question (pun intended), Are forest fires a bad thing?

To answer this we must first understand the good a natural forest fire brings to the ecosystem. As a natural phenomenon, forest fires are responsible for maintaining the carbon cycle, the productivity of the forest and also they also help clear off weaker trees and return nutrients back to the forest. The major causes of most natural forest fires are lightning, volcanic eruptions and even sparks from falling rocks. These fires occur during the dry seasons when drought-like conditions convert green vegetation to dry flammable fuel.

So are forest fires a good thing?

Most forest fires occurring today can be traced back to humans activities, which brings us to the question, what is so wrong with having most of our forests on fires be?

With each fire there as estimated 182 teragrams of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere, contributing to the global climate crisis, and the loss of trees further warms up these areas, creating more areas prone to wildfires. Thus forest fires themselves increase the chances of more forest fires in the future by forming a positive feedback loop. So although natural forest fires are necessary for the proper functioning of the ecosystem, the recent alarming rise in the number of fires not just disrupts natural cycles but has a serious negative impact on biodiversity.

Amazon wildfire

The amazon wildfire has been a hot topic on the internet (no pun intended). Pictures released from the site have been circulating the internet for a couple of days with hashtags like #prayforamazonia. The Amazon rainforest plays a major role in maintaining the world’s climate. Covering just 40% of South America, it is home to around 400 billion trees and is responsible for generating 20% of the world’s total oxygen. The smoke caused by the burning of this forest was visible from space and even traveled by the wind to blacken the city of Sao Paulo, 2700 kilometers away, for an hour in the afternoon.

The Amazon is home to a diverse floral and faunal population that has been drastically affected by this fire. The forest is also for funneling water through transpiration to the rain clouds, which affects the monsoon season in many parts of this continent. Several reasons can be linked to these fires, from policies by powerful politicians like Jair Bolsonaro to farmers wanting more agricultural land, but it's now time for us to understand the cost of our own actions and take an active interest in uniting ourselves against powerful people so that we have a greater future ahead for the generations to come.

Kayden Anthony, Programme Assistant.

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[xi] It’s okay to be smart