Monday, August 23, 2010

Analysis shows up deadly combination in fire disasters Analysis of catastrophic wildfires in Russia and Greece has highlighted a deadly combination of climate change impacts and the neglect of forest management, WWF organizations in the two fire prone countries said today.

In the joint statement, WWF-Russia and WWF-Greece said the catastrophic wildfires that hit Russia during the first two weeks of August awoke the memories of the tragic Greek "black summer" of 2007. Fires have now flared up in Greece, where the national budgetary crisis has seen fire defences downgraded.

“Although the weather did not favor mega-wildfires during June and July, as the 2010 summer ends Greeks witness once more the dramatic ecological consequences of forest fires, " said Demetres Karavellas, Director of WWF Greece.

…The analysis of key contributing factors that turn wildfire into wildfire catastrophe included gaps in national forest legislation, understaffed and under-equipped forest management and fire suppression authorities, little emphasis on cost effective preventative measures and poor mobilization of public support for forest protection.

“According to the official data, this summer about 1 million hectares of forests were burnt, 14 natural protected areas of federal importance are burning at this very moment, at least 127 villages turned into ashes and 52 people were killed because of forest fires,” said Dr Evgeny Shvarts, Conservation Policy Director for WWF Russia…

Satellite image of 2007 fires in Greece, from NASA

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