Sunday, 25 September, 2022

Climate change driving unprecedented forest fire loss

Climate change driving unprecedented forest fire loss

PARIS: Forest fires supercharged by climate change are burning twice as much global tree cover as 20 years ago, according to a data Wednesday showing the equivalent of 16 football pitches are now lost every minute, reports AFP.

The research showed in unprecedented detail how wildfires have progressed over the past two decades, with the blazes claiming an estimated three more million hectares each year -- an area the size of Belgium -- compared with 2001.

The study showed that the majority of tree cover loss is occurring in the boreal forests that blanket much of Russia, Canada and Alaska, which are among the largest storers of carbon on Earth.

Researchers from the University of Maryland used satellite imagery to map areas of tree cover lost, including that burned by what are known as stand-replacing forest fires.

These are fires that kill all or most of the forest's canopy and which cause long-term changes to forest structure and soil chemistry.

The data showed 2021 to be one of the worst years for forest fires since the turn of the century, causing 9.3 million hectares of tree cover loss globally.

That was more than a third of all the forest lost last year, according to the data, compiled by Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute research group.

Forest fires are getting worse worldwide, James McCarthy, research analyst at Global Forest Watch, told AFP.

The European Union's satellite monitoring service said last week that western Europe had experienced record fire activity so far in 2022, with tens of thousands of hectares of forest lost in France, Spain and Portugal.