Stop the fires!

Satelitte picture of fires in Greece last summerIt has been almost one year since the last big fires were set in Europe. Last summer, many square kilometres of forests were burnt into ashes, with Greece being the most serious example. One year later, authorities have taken no measures to face similar problems.

Fires are rather often in Mediterranean ecosystems, due to the mild winter and the long dry summers. High temperatures and drought, in combination with dead leaves on the ground, often cause fires. But when referring to a natural process, often means every eight to ten years.

Mediterranean ecosystems have developed ways of regeneration within less than ten years, because the species living there have adapted themselves to the periodical presence of fire. Most roots, for instance, remain alive and plants grow up again.

But no ecosystem can regain its previous healthy state if human sets fires almost every year. And that is what happens nowadays, for various reasons. Burnt forests provide humans with the space needed for new fields, farms and houses. But the price for doing so is high. Many animals die or lose their natural habitat. Many species face extinction. Moreover, having less plants means that less oxygen is produced.

Consequently, it becomes obvious that measures should be taken so as to protect forests from fires. Stricter laws ought to be passed, and especially against arsonists.

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