Kill wild animals

Forest fires: causes and dangers for humans, animals and the planet

Forest fires in and of themselves are actually good for certain landscapes, as they destroy the undergrowth in the forests and trigger the shedding of seeds in some plant species such as the Banks pine.

Unfortunately, the suppression of natural small fires has helped such large-scale forest fires as the current one to spread.

In the first half of the 20th century, the US Department of Forestry suffered from "pyrophobia," as historian Stephen Pyne put it - an effort to suppress all forest fires, even useful ones.

In some places, the path to a safer, more ecologically meaningful relationship with fire is being pursued with planned forest fires. The fire brigade focuses its efforts on extinguishing fires in particularly vulnerable areas such as municipalities, urban water catchment areas and sequoia forests. Beyond these areas, they learn to simply let some fires burn out on their own, as nature intended.

Long-term consequences for the planet

Forest fires can potentially heat the entire planet, a 2016 study by NASA revealed. In ecosystems like the boreal coniferous forest, which stores more carbon than any other rural ecosystem on earth, the effects of climate change are affecting twice as fast.

In May 2016, various fires raged in the northern boreal forests of Canada for months. They destroyed millions of hectares of woodland and scorched the nutrient-rich forest floor, which serves as a large carbon reservoir. For every degree by which our planet warms, the forest needs 15 percent more precipitation to compensate for the drought.