Logging Fueled Last Year’s Catastrophic Megafires in Australia and Could Spark Repeats

Fires from the Amazon to Siberia engulfed much of the world in 2016, with some areas still experiencing the most burns. This year shows signs of a recurrence. The hand of global heating is not hard to find in the game, even some tried to deny it, but a new study in Nature Ecology and Evolution claims that the effects of logging have been ignored.  The paper’s authors are Australians, and their focus is on the unprecedented fires that have spread across Australia’s millions of hectares of forest during the recent summer in the Southern Hemisphere. But University of Queensland professor James Watson told IFLScience that their decisions are applied worldwide.

Prof. Watson said, “The general process is the same everywhere.” “When you log in to a forest you open a tent so that it dries more. There is less moisture in the soil and more air, which dries things out. “” Windbreaks allow fires to move faster and get warmer. In addition, Watson noted in a statement, “[Logging] can release 450 tons of flammable fuel per hectare of land. – By any measure, this is an incredibly dangerous level of combustible material in a seasonally dry landscape. “

The fire is lit in the winter after the wood is removed to reduce fuel and encourage recycling. But Watson told IFLScience that “it doesn’t get rid of all of it and it just dries up the soil,” making an area more vulnerable to future fires. Native Forest Logging often claims that the industry is a defense against wildfires, but Watson told IFLScience that the claim can never be proven that it can be proven, even with many arguments. “The only argument is that it removes some wood from the system, but in the process, it’s leftover which makes it more combustible.”

Watson notes the fire-building starts burning, not dense logs, and the area with a thousand regrowth seedlings is more likely to burn more than one with a few less powerful trees, although it has less total wood. Fire spreads easily in canopies of equal height, but multi-story canopies in areas that have been inundated for centuries are interrupted. Endure the consequences. “There is a place in Australia that was logged a century ago and has not been logged since, but they are still at risk of fire,” Watson said, although some ecosystems recover more quickly.

The authors immediately called for logging from the local forest to plant trees and especially to protect the forests around the city. Watson stressed that the most important thing is to avoid “rescue logging” to the burned areas last summer. Promoted as a way to keep dead wood that would not otherwise be wasted in use, Watson said it only enhances repetitive change. Instead, he told IFLScience, replacing it with a mixture of species could help provide a protective buffer.