Pollution from forest fires reaches far past the vicinity of the immediate burned area. Toxins are far reaching long after firefighters put out dangerous wildfires. Citizens often have to evacuate from the smoke dangers, even if the fire spares their home or business. Once the fires are extinguished the air does not immediately return to normal. Ongoing concerns about the air quality have turned to the possibility of an increase in CO2 emissions stemming for the leftovers of the fires. Forests in the far east part of Russia are currently the home of some catastrophic blazes.
A boreal forest is also referred to as a snow forest. These forests are mainly made up of various types of spruces and pines. Some of the trees in the Russian boreal forest are up to 500 years old. The fires are both natural, due to climate change, and human initiated. Illegal logging practices give way to fires started by criminals. Russia houses about ⅕ of the forest cover on the planet. The survival of these areas is pertinent to the health of our planet.
The carbon content of boreal forests is naturally high. The large number of roots, branches, and leaves are decomposed by the charcoal left over by forest fires. The increase in this material is causing decomposition at a higher rate. The release of CO2 is a normal part of this decomposition process; however, the recent amounts are extreme. A two-year study was undertaken to test the effects of this natural routine. The results showed a near double increase in the root decomposition. This accelerated time frame gives scientists an idea of how the continued fires endanger the environment.
The environment is undergoing massive changes due to global warming issues. The climate changes, coupled with irresponsible human acts, form a dangerous cocktail. The boreal forests are an important part of the earth’s oxygen supply. The African rainforest and Amazon jungle are a large focal point when considering deforestation. It is time that we also begin to focus on the boreal forests of Russia before it is too late.