Forest fires in Zabaikalsky region, Siberia, Russia. This land suffered from wildfires for years. Photo: Maria Vasileva / Greenpeace

By Khalimat Tekeeva
3 June 2016

(Greenpeace) – According to analysis of recent satellite data, forest fires in eastern Russia currently cover more than 3.5 million hectares of forested land. An area larger than Belgium!

And the fire season in Russia isn't over yet.

This year's forest fires are close to becoming one of the most devastating in recent Russian history. Usually around 5 to 6 million hectares of forest burn in a year. Russian meteorologists say that this summer in Russia will be warm and dry – weather fire fighters hate.

Russia is warming faster than the rest of the planet. According to a new report by Russia's climate and environment agency, between 1976 and 2012 average temperatures in Russia rose 0.43°C (0.8°F) a decade – more than twice the global average of 0.17°C.

Extremely dry weather in Siberia is one of the impacts of climate change according to natural reserve rangers in Zapovednoye Podlemorye on lake Baikal. Wildfires release massive amounts of carbon which causes climate change which makes the fires worse. It's a terrible cycle.

As a result, we face forest fires in one of the largest forested region in the world – the Russian Boreal forest. It's also one of the most 'biologically outstanding' places in the world, home to a range of species – from wolves and brown bears to golden eagles and Siberian accentors. These species suffered when a forest fire almost entirely engulfed the natural reserve in Baikal three days ago. [more]

Wildfires in Russia: much worse than you could imagine

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