Since the start of this year, 19 million hectares of land have been decimated by widespread wildfires in Russia, with Greenpeace Russia saying roughly 10 million of these hectares suffered forest fires.
According to the organisation, remote areas in far eastern Russia and eastern Siberia have been most affected, with many towns and villages covered in smoke.
Fires burn through Siberian Taiga forests every year, with Greenpeace Russia wildfire unit head Grigory Kuksin explaining that climate change makes Siberia a hotspot for imminent disaster, exacerbated through heatwaves, oil spills due to thawing permafrost, and forest fires.
Authorities have been criticised for “economic cutbacks on forest protection.”
In light of Covid-19 and associated respiratory complications, increased smoke inhalation could be potentially fatal for residents.
Greenpeace Russia campaigners said some forest fires were due to lightning strikes, but others occurring near river banks were likely due to campfires. Logging companies destroying leftover wood are another common cause of wildfires in the region, the campaigners said.
Last year’s devastating wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon shocked the world, burning more than 1 million hectares of forest. However, these fires have not stopped burning, prompting Greenpeace Brazil to fly over Mato Grosso to capture images of illegal forest fires.
Mato Grosso has 4,437 wildfire hotspots, the highest number in the region this year.
Forest fires were banned by government in July this year and a “fire moratorium” was ordered by President Jair Bolsonaro recently, but the ban has reportedly been ineffective.
Greenpeace Brazil expressed serious concern for indigenous people living in the Amazon, who will likely also suffer from respiratory complications due to smoke inhalation, in addition to losing their homes.
Fires in the region are due to logging and industrial agricultural production practices.
(Compiled by Nica Richards)