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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

Scientific debate on the protection of forests from fires was held in Krasnoyarsk

28 August 2019 г.

В Красноярске прошли научные дебаты на тему охраны лесов от пожаров
In these days, the All-Russian Conference "Forest ecosystems of the boreal zone: biodiversity, bioeconomics, environmental risks" with international participation is being held in Krasnoyarsk which is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest KSC SB RAS. More than 150 researchers fr om Russia, Finland, Poland, USA, France, Germany and other countries are taking part in the event. On the first day, scientists held a scientific debate discussing possible measures to protect and partially save forests fr om fires.

The ideal forest policy around the world is to strive for sustainable forest management, with the exploitation of forest resources being combined with the biodiversity conservation. However, forest fires prevent this. Often, during periods of severe drought, they take on disastrous dimensions; they not only destroy ecosystems, but also pose a threat to human settlements. At the same time, world experience shows that the problem of forest fires cannot be solved only by increasing technical power.

Abroad, fire forecasting systems are widely used to predict and fight with this natural disaster. Scientists of the V.N. Sukachev Institute of Forest FRC KSC SB RAS during their internships studied the best-developed fire forecasting systems in Canada and in the USA. According to the Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, leading research associate at the Institute of Forest, Alexandra Volokitina, to directly use foreign developments in Russia is impossible. Most often, such systems are adapted to a particular region, so it is necessary to develop our own methodology. According to the pyrologist, to create a working system, particular attention is required fr om the governing bodies of the forestry sector as well as financial support for scientists involved in this problem.

The scientists also discussed the situation with fires this year. Most scientists and experts say that this year the situation is not extreme. The stormy public reaction is largely due to the changing wind pattern and spread of fire emissions over large areas. The smoke gave rise to active discussions, campaigns and appeals under the slogans "Save the Siberian forests from fires."

Sergey Bartalev, Doctor of Technical Sciences, professor, head of the Laboratory for Satellite Monitoring of Terrestrial Ecosystems at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, makes a point that in Russia forests are divided into two categories: a monitoring zone and a protection zone. “In the protection zone, wh ere the fires are extinguished in any case, the area of fires this year was smaller than last year. Only in August, these areas are approaching average annual data. But, speaking of the monitoring zone, wh ere fires are extinguished only when they begin to pose a threat, the situation is completely different. The area of fires exceeded the average annual data, ” – emphasizes  the scientist.

According to the Aerial Forest Protection Service (Avialesookhrana), at present more than 10 million hectares of forest have already burned out in Siberia. Scientists note that the trend to increasing number and area of fires in recent years is obvious. The percentage of dying forests is also growing, and biodiversity is also decreased due to fires.

“Every year the situation does not change: forests burn in summer, but in autumn the situation is forgotten and new actions are not taken. Although autumn is the time to make decisions, ” says Aleksey Yaroshenko, head of the forest department of Greenpeace in Russia,“ and when the new season starts, the story with the fire hazards is repeated. If we want to change anything, we must make proposals to the regulations now. ”

The environmentalist insists that in the current circumstances it is necessary to get rid of distorted information on the extent and consequences of forest fires. “Statistical reality is close to the actual one, but nevertheless differs from it. A recent report provided on the Avialesookhrana website indicates that in the Irkutsk Region the area of fires amounts to 180 hectares. On the same date, satellite images show that 50 thousand hectares are burning. Based on inaccurate information, the state of emergency is canceled. Management decisions should not be made on the basis of false information! ”, emphasizes Alexey Yaroshenko.

The scientific debate has revealed that almost all the participants require changes in the legislation which regulates forest zoning, in particular the boundaries of control zones wh ere fires may not be extinguished. As a result of the scientific debate, a resolution will be made with proposals for updating the Forest Code, which are to be forwarded to the President of Russia, Government, Ministry of Nature, Federal Forestry Agency and Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.