Fire represents a powerful symbol. It signifies many things and the issues such as Amazon forest catching fire are overwhelming.
This year in Brazil there has been a lot of fires nearly 76%. This is more in comparison to the last ear same period. The devastating fact is that after the Brazil government announced a ban on land clearing and burning, aiming to stop spreading fires. It was shockingly found that within 48 hours in the Amazon alone there were more than 2000 fires, identified by the satellite data. The fires in 2019 are going to have an enduring impact on the forest and also on the world.
The largest rainforest, Amazon in the world houses over a quarter of the land-bound species of the Earth. This incessant burning of the forests is a serious matter of concern as it will turn the ecosystem completely. The result will be different featuring fewer trees and countable species of animals and plants. The trees will succumb to this fire, while the animals are shaken off their habitat. There are possibilities that some species entirely disappear from the area.
The continuation of the Amazon fires looks like it is not going to lessen the supply of oxygen to the Earth, they are sure to also release carbon dioxide in significant amounts. For instance, in 2016, Amazon caught fire and burned just 0.2%, releasing carbon dioxide to 30 tons, this was almost equalizing that Denmark discharged last year in 2018.
Certainly, it is not good news. Releasing carbon dioxide is harmful as this ‘greenhouse gas’ contributes to climate change and global warming. No doubt, humans are by now creating massive amounts of carbon dioxide through transport, energy use, and industries.
A Shifting Amazon
A humid, tropical forest such as the Amazon is catching fire in the dry season. The leaf litter, branches, and dry dead wood build up the forest and without rain after many days; a small spark starts a wildfire. However, the fire that is blazing now is not a natural or normal process.
The Australian bush, the African savannah or the conifer forests in the US also have evolved over thousands of years with fires. Nevertheless, the problem is that the animals and plants in the Amazon do not know to survive this fire and to revive after the blaze. The reason is that fires are rare before humans settled in this area.
The Amazon forest trees have thin bark and a fire heat can damage the cells within the tree and kill it. Research previously found that nearly 40% of trees die after fire for up to three years. It means the carbon amassed in the branches, trunks, and leaves are let loose into the atmosphere.
With the large trees dying, more wind and sun are let in. the plant species sprout and re-grow in less shady conditions. This attracts more herbivores such as brocket deer, agoutis, and leaf-cutting ants. The plant species loss means a decline in fruit-producing trees and the population relying on the fruits for food includes monkeys and parrots, which also are at the edge of survival.
A Dawdling recovery
As Amazon burns, only partial recovery is possible. The hardwood, large trees hold more carbon amounts. As the forest re-grows, they are replaced by smaller trees and softwood species. These trees take a speedy growth but are short-lived that they are unable to collect carbon in the trunks.
This process of getting larger hardwood species back may take a few hundreds of years. If there are no further disturbances, there is a small chance of returning, yet the Amazon forest getting to the previous state is impossible. With the ongoing deforestation and changing climate, the fires are too likely.