Wildfires: Threat to Global Sustainability

Touhid Ahmed Rana

16 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Amazon to Australia, it’s around 16,373 km to fly. But within a couple of months satellites took same images of both the lung of the earth and the land of kangaroos. Wildfires took possession over Amazon Rainforest for a couple of weeks and Australia is still covered by millions of fire flames. Wildfires are burning the green of the earth and we are very close to face a number of dangers which are ultimate threat for our future.

According to the last footages wildfires in Australia took around 16,000,000 acres of wild or forest lands. It is hard to mention that, around 50 million of wild animals are dead and the number is increasing to higher than previous. Australia is under a heavy threat through the wildfires, and every moment is creating new challenges for the residents and wild animals. Here the heat wave estimated to push the temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit sometimes. The number of dead residents through wildfires touched two-digit figure and nothing is positive here. Australian Prime Minister said that – “What we are saying is, we cannot control the natural disasters. But, what we can do is control our response.” So it can be presumed that, wildfires are driving Australia to cry for the damages.

In September, 2019 – Amazon rainforest faced the darkest and hottest memory in its history. Wildfires took around 2,240,000 acres of forest land and a large number of wild animals were dead through the random wildfires. It is really alarming that 72,843 fires were detected by the Brazilian space research centre INPE in 2019, which is an increase of around 83% on the previous year.

In September, 2019 the largest iceberg called D28 has melted and it covers 1,636 sq km which was just a result of global warming. While we are thinking about a sustainable future, we are facing the older challenges with new outlooks. A balanced global temperature is the core element for a sustainable future and still the whole world is calculating the math for sustainability, but the outcome never touched the roof of expectation.

Wildfires are the ultimate causes of global warming, so how can we think about sustainable future whereas the global temperature has been increased in an alarming rate in the last 100 years?

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio De Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992) is a non-legally binding statement of principles; it stands for a global consensus and powerful conservation as well as sustainable development for all types of forests in the earth.

Principle 2(a) of the conference says that – “States have the sovereign and inalienable right to utilize, manage and develop their forests in accordance with their development needs and level of socio-economic development.” This principle also says that, national policies should be implemented in consistent with the sustainable development and legislation. But, here the word sustainable came after the sovereign and inalienable right to utilize by states.

Whereas, Principle 2(b) emphasized the sustainable management of forest resources and wild lands to meet social, cultural, economic and ecological needs of the present and future. This Principle indicates that, before thinking about the socio-economic development, we should think about the sustainable uses of wild lands and resources and that will create a sustainable future for us.

The Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines under Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) deals with a number of priority principles which are regarding fire as well as sustainable forest management. Principle 8 of the Guidelines directly shows the role and actions of legislation to support and institutionalize fire management. So, the implementation of this principle may be affirmative to have a legislation which will be fruitful for fire management in wild lands.

Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines aim that, there should be better landscape managements worldwide to prevent wildfires, and such preventive landscape managements should include policies for better socio-economic market aspects.

Moreover, FAO worked for the promotion of Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines and expected to inspire the countries to develop an integrated approach for fire management and wild land preservation.  

We can clearly presume that, wildfires in Australia are affecting the whole world in a cycle. For example – wildfires are heating the global temperature and the result is iceberg melting in Antarctica. On the other side, sea level is rising alarmingly which is a matter of headache for the countries like the Maldives, Sri Lanka and even Bangladesh to be submerged in 30-60 years. 

Now it can be said that, though wildfires are threatening global sustainability, but we cannot stop hoping to have a sustainable future. It is a crying need to protect the earth by breaking the dangerous cycles of wildfires through which global sustainability is being affected.

Each of the countries should think again and again for the sustainability and should ratify the International Treaties which are in consistent with the legislation and sustainable development of the countries. It is high time to bring a number of action plans like Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines and these needs to be implemented in an organized way as advocacy becomes easier for sustainable land and resources management.


The writer is a Law graduate from North South University.