People, Environment

Summer Months Herald Frequent Forest Fires

Summer Months Herald Frequent Forest FiresSummer Months Herald Frequent Forest Fires

Reports of wildfires in forests have become so frequent that if the trend holds, it may stop receiving media coverage.

Summer has not yet arrived, but so far over 100 hectares of forestlands have been devoured by wildfires, raising fears of frequent fires with the advent of hotter summer months, ILNA reported.

None of the relevant organizations is properly equipped to put out forest fires before they spread too far. Even worse, they point the finger of blame at one another; one claims a lack of budget, the other points to mismanagement of available funds.

The constant bickering only leads to one thing: untrained civilians picking up shovels to put out the fires destroying precious forests that are home to diverse flora and fauna.

According to Colonel Qasem Sabzali, commander of Iran’s forests and natural resources protection unit, in the first two months of the current Iranian year (started March 21), there were 20% less forest fires compared to the same period of last year, but fires destroyed a much larger area this year.

“If we include the wildfires that occurred in the third month of the year, that statistics will significantly increase,” Sabzali said.

The official said with every 1 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, animals’ water demand increases by 17%.

“Iran’s average temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius in the past few decades. The increased temperature combined with reduced humidity has increased the risk of wildfires,” he said.

  Reforestation Efforts

Sabzali said reforestation efforts, while commendable, are ultimately ineffective because of high expenses and saplings’ need for constant care.

Asked about the time it would take forests, such as the Zagros Forest and the Golestan National Part, to recover, he said they would take 100 and 500 years respectively to fully recover.

Pointing to climate change, he said had the wildfires occurred 100 years ago, the forests would have needed only 15 years to recover, “but climate change and the global population explosion has put a lot of pressure on nature.”

Iran is located in one of the most water-stressed regions of the world and is currently battling unprecedented drought and water shortage, and the unrelenting dust storms barely give the country a moment of respite. The plethora of environmental problems plaguing Iran is such that the country cannot afford to lose even a single tree, let alone dense forests.