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News articles on forest fires
Mongabay.com news articles on forest fires in blog format. Updated regularly.
(02/25/2008) If past conditions are any indication of future conditions, the Amazon rainforest may survive considerable drying and warming caused by global warming, argue researchers in a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Global warming - not el Nino - drove severe Amazon drought in 2005
(02/20/2008) One of the worst droughts on record in the Amazon was caused by high temperatures in the Atlantic rather than el Nino. The research, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggests that human-driven warming is already affecting the climate of Earth's largest rainforest.
Ancient Amazon fires linked to human populations
(02/20/2008) Analysis of soil charcoal in South America confirms that from a historical perspective, fire is rare in the Amazon rainforest, but when it does occur, it appears linked to human activities. The research, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, is based on dating of soil carbon, which provides a good indication of when fires occurred in Amazonia, according to lead author Mark Bush, head of the Department of Biology at Florida Institute of Technology.
Small Amazon farmers especially vulnerable to climate change
(02/19/2008) Communicating the impact of climate change to small farmers in the Amazon will be key in helping them adapt to higher temperatures, more frequent and intense drought, and greater incidence of forest fires forecast for the region, according to a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Fire policy is key to reducing the impact of drought on the Amazon
(02/19/2008) Gaining control over the setting of fires for land-clearing in the Amazon is key to reducing deforestation and the impact of severe drought on the region's forests, write researchers in a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
How much would it cost to end Amazon deforestation?
(01/27/2008) With Brazil last week announcing a significant jump in Amazon deforestation during the second half of 2007, the question emerges, how much would it cost to end the destruction of Earth's largest rainforest?
7000 sq km of Amazon rainforest destroyed in late 2007 says Greenpeace
(01/25/2008) Brazilian government figures will likely show that more than 7,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed between August and the end December 2007, said environmental group Greenpeace.
Amazon deforestation jumps in the second half of 2007
(01/24/2008) Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rose sharply in the second half of 2007 as a result of surging prices for beef and grain, said a top Brazilian environmental official.
Madagascar increases fines for forest burning
(01/03/2008) Madagascar will increase penalties for people caught setting land-clearing fires on the biodiverse island, according to a report from Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
U.S. corn subsidies drive Amazon destruction
(12/13/2007) U.S. corn subsidies for ethanol production are contributing to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, reports a tropical forest scientist writing in this week's issue of the journal Science.
Beetle droppings help forests recover from fire
(12/04/2007) Armed with a pair of tweezers and a handful of beetle droppings, University of Alberta forestry graduate Tyler Cobb has discovered why the bug-sized dung is so important to areas ravaged by fire.
Could the carbon market save the Amazon rainforest?
(11/29/2007) The global carbon market could play a key role in saving the Amazon from the effects of climate change and economic development, which could otherwise trigger dramatic ecological changes, reports a new paper published in Science. The authors argue that a well-articulated plan, financed by carbon markets, could prevent the worst outcomes for the Amazon forest while generating economic benefits for the region's inhabitants.
Law enforcement key to saving Borneo's rainforests
(11/13/2007) In an interview with mongabay.com, Dr. Rhett Harrison, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) associate researcher and Secretary for the Asia-Pacific Chapter of ATBC, says that law enforcement could be the key to safeguarding biodiversity contained in Borneo's lowland parks. Harrison says there may be opportunities for conservationists to work with oil palm to developers to ensure that existing forests are not converted for plantations and that palm oil can be produced in a sustainable manner. He also adds that carbon offsets may eventually offer a means to fund conservation and sustainable development efforts in areas that still have standing forest.
Subtle threats could ruin the Amazon rainforest
(11/07/2007) While the mention of Amazon destruction usually conjures up images of vast stretches of felled and burned rainforest trees, cattle ranches, and vast soybean farms, some of the biggest threats to the Amazon rainforest are barely perceptible from above. Selective logging -- which opens up the forest canopy and allows winds and sunlight to dry leaf litter on the forest floor -- and 6-inch high "surface" fires are turning parts of the Amazon into a tinderbox, putting the world's largest rainforest at risk of ever-more severe forest fires. At the same time, market-driven hunting is impoverishing some areas of seed dispersers and predators, making it more difficult for forests to recover. Climate change -- an its forecast impacts on the Amazon basin -- further looms large over the horizon.
California fires release 8M tons of CO2
(11/01/2007) Southern California wildfires released 7.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in just the one-week period of October 19-26--the equivalent of about 25 percent of the average monthly emissions from all fossil fuel burning throughout California--according to researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Boreal forest fires important source of emissions
(10/31/2007) Forest fires in the boreal forests of Canada are an important source of greenhouse gas emissions reports a new study published in the journal Nature.
Despite fire risk, more Americans building near forests
(10/29/2007) While much of the world is seeing an urbanization trend, U.S. housing density around national forests is expected to rise by 2050, reports a study from the U.S. Forest Service. The shift could put more people at risk of devastating forest fires and increase pressure on forests and the services they provide.
Madagascar fires mapped with Google Earth in real-time
(10/29/2007) Every year as much as one-third of Madagascar, one of the planet's most biodiverse islands, goes up in flames. Now a new tool gives scientists the ability to monitor and track Madagascar's fires in real-time through the Internet.
2007 Amazon fires among worst ever
(10/22/2007) By some measures, forest fires in the Amazon are at near-record levels, according to analysis Brazilian satellite data by mongabay.com. A surge in soy and cattle prices may be contributing to an increase in deforestation since last year. Last year environmentalists and the Brazilian government heralded a sharp fall in deforestation rates, the third consecutive annual decline after a peak in 2004. Forest loss in the 2006-2007 season was the lowest since record-keeping began in the late in 1970s. While the government tried to claim credit for the drop, analysts at the time said that commodity prices were a more likely driver of slow down: both cattle and soy prices had declined significantly over the previous months.
Amazon rainforest burning "worst" in memory
(10/16/2007) Fires continue to rage in the Amazon, according to local reports. John Cain Carter, a rancher who runs Alianca da Terra, an environmental accountability group for agricultural operators, says that the fires are the worst he has ever seen in the region. "I have never seen fires this bad," he told mongabay.com. "The fires are even worse than in 1998's El Nino event." NASA satellite images released at the end of September confirm widespread burning in the Amazon state of Mato Grosso.
Fires rage in Amazon rainforest park
(10/04/2007) Forest fires are raging in Xingu National Park in the Amazon rainforest, according to a pioneering cattle rancher-turned-conservationist in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.
Land-clearing fires send smoke across Argentina, Paraguay
(09/11/2007) Thousands of fires likely set for land-clearing are sending thick smoke over southern South America, reports NASA.
Australia puts $100M toward protecting forest in Borneo
(09/09/2007) Australian and Indonesian ministers signed a AU$100 million ($82M) deal to protect highly threatened forests on the island of Borneo, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Funds will go towards conservation and rehabilitation of degraded forests and peatlands.
"Virgin" rain forests of Costa Rica a misnomer
(07/25/2007) Radiocarbon dating of montane forest soils in Costa Rica uncovered evidence of charcoal that shows its otherwise "virgin" tropical forests are less than 200 years old. The findings, published in the journal Biotropica, have implications for the re-establishment of rain forests after clearing.
Poverty and corruption reduce effectiveness of rainforest parks
(07/09/2007) Poverty and corruption are linked to higher incidence of fire in tropical forest reserves, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Poor, corrupt countries -- like Cambodia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone -- have the least effective parks when measured in terms of the incidence of fire relative to surrounding "buffer" areas. The findings have significant implications for rainforest conservation efforts.
Indonesia pledges to cut haze-causing fires by half
(06/22/2007) Indonesia say it aims to reduce forest fires by 40-50 percent this year, following nearly a decade of devastating seasonal fires that release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, threaten critical orangutan habitat, and raise regional health risks.
98% of orangutan habitat gone in next 15 years
(06/11/2007) Indonesia is losing more than 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres) of forest a year to illegal loggers, states a new report from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP). The report, which estimates the value of illicit timbering at $4 billion annually, warns that 98 percent of Indonesia's lowland forests will be gone by 2022, putting species like the orangutan at risk of extinction in the wild. The report, Last stand of the Orang-utan: State of Emergency, was released Monday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in The Hague.
Can cattle ranchers and soy farmers save the Amazon?
(06/06/2007) John Cain Carter, a Texas rancher who moved to the heart of the Amazon 11 years ago and founded what is perhaps the most innovative organization working in the Amazon, Alianca da Terra, believes the only way to save the Amazon is through the market. Carter says that by giving producers incentives to reduce their impact on the forest, the market can succeed where conservation efforts have failed. What is most remarkable about Alianca's system is that it has the potential to be applied to any commodity anywhere in the world. That means palm oil in Borneo could be certified just as easily as sugar cane in Brazil or sheep in New Zealand. By addressing the supply chain, tracing agricultural products back to the specific fields where they were produced, the system offers perhaps the best market-based solution to combating deforestation. Combining these approaches with large-scale land conservation and scientific research offers what may be the best hope for saving the Amazon.
Global warming will worsen fires in Australia
(05/31/2007) Global warming will put Australia at significantly higher risk of catastrophic bushfires said a leading climate scientists. Speaking at a climate conference in Sydney, Andy Pitman, co-director of the University of New South Wales's climate change research center, said that Australia will face a 100 to 200 percent increase in bushfire vulnerability by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions aren't curbed.
Will Amazon drought worsen in 2007?
(05/29/2007) Contrary to popular belief, the Amazon rainforest is not rainy year round. Further from the equator, rainfall is more seasonal, with dry periods that sometimes last for months.
Experts: Borneo in urgent need of protection
(05/23/2007) A prominent group of 1500 scientists in over 70 countries have called for the urgent conservation of Borneo's forests, which are fast-disappearing on the southeast Asian island due to logging, fires, and conversion for oil palm plantations.
Climate change may decimate Indonesia's food supplies, worsen fires
(04/30/2007) Climate change could worsen food shortages in Indonesia by delaying the onset of monsoon rains reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The findings suggest that the country could face increasing risk of drought and forest fire if nothing is done to control rising greenhouse gas emissions.
How to stop haze and forest fires in Indonesia
(04/19/2007) In recent years, annual forest fires in Indonesian have destroyed millions of hectares of forest and caused billions of dollars in economic damage. After each episode of fires the Indonesian government, facing criticism from neighboring governments, promises it will crack down. Nothing happens and the fires burn again the next year.
Indonesia is 3rd largest greenhouse gas producer due to deforestation
(03/26/2007) Indonesia trails only the United States and China in greenhouse gas emissions, reports a study released Friday by the World Bank and the British government.
Fires burn across Burma; pollution levels rise in Thailand
(03/20/2007) Fires are raging across Myanmar (Burma) causing 'haze' pollution in neighboring Thailand, Laos, and southern China according to new satellite images release by NASA. The fires are set annually during the dry season for clearing brush and scrub for agriculture. In especially dry years the fires often spread into adjacent forest areas.
Amazon rainforest fires date back thousands of years
(03/14/2007) Fires are nothing new to the Amazon reports a study published in the journalBiotropica. Analyzing soils in the eastern Amazon, a team of scientists led by David S. Hammond of NWFS Consulting, has found evidence of forest fires dating back thousands of years. While the origin of these fires is unclear, the authors propose intriguing scenarios involving pre-Colombian human populations and ancient el Nino events which could have so dried rainforest areas that they became more prone to forest fires.
2006 Indonesian forest fires worst since 1998
(03/01/2007) NASA has linked el Nino to the worst fires in Indonesia since the 1997-1998 conflagration that burned nearly 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of land across the country.
Wildfires are linked to Atlantic Ocean temperatures
(12/25/2006) Scientists have linked the incidence of wildfires in the Western United States to Atlantic Ocean temperatures.
Forest fires worsen mercury contamination in fish
(12/04/2006) Forest fires can worsen mercury accumulation in fish according to a paper published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) for the week of December 4-8, 2006.
As presidential election approaches, Madagascar's lemur sanctuary burns
(11/23/2006) Forest fires are burning crucial lemur habitat and other hotbeds of biodiversity in Madagascar according to reports from the northeastern part of the island. The upcoming presidential election -- a bitterly contested poll -- may be partially to blame for the upswing in destruction says a leading local conservationist. Madagascar, a biologically rich, but economically poor island country located off the southeastern coast of Africa is almost as famous for its environmental problems as for its lemurs, a charismatic group of primates found nowhere else on Earth. The country is home to some 90 types of lemurs as well as a bonanza of other rare and unusual creatures including a puma-like mongoose, spiny hedgehog-like beasts called tenrecs, and absurdly colorful chameleons. But these creatures are highly threatened by habitat destruction, most of which results from slash-and-burn agriculture that has left less than 10 percent of the island's original forest cover standing.
Forest fires may cool climate
(11/17/2006) Boreal forest fires may actually cool climate according to research published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. Researchers at the Univerisity of California, Irvine (UCI), found that cooling may occur in regions where burned trees -- and reduced canopy cover -- exposes more snow, which reflects the sun's rays back into space. This effect may outweight the climate warming impact of the grenhouse gases released by forest burning.
Southeast Asian nations propose haze fund, but fail to address root cause
(11/13/2006) Southeast Asian nations agreed to create to a fund to help fight forest fires in Indonesian according to a report from Retuers. The pledge however stops short of addressing the root cause of the choking haze: deforestation.
Fires in Indonesia kill 1,000 endangered orangutans
(11/07/2006) 1000 orangutans perished this year in forest fires that raged across Borneo and Sumatra according to a conservationist interviewed by Reuters. Willie Smits, an ecologist at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Indonesia, told Reuters that the fires forced hungry orangutans into agricultural areas where they were killed as pests. Orangutans are known for feeding on fruit of oil palm and other crops in fields adjacent to forest areas.
Is Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas polluter?
(11/03/2006) Is Indonesia the world's third largest producer of greenhouse gases? A new study by Wetlands International says it is, if the country's destruction of peat bogs is taken into account. A report released Thursday by Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics, a Dutch research institute, estimates that emissions from Indonesia's destruction of its extensive peat bogs releases 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year -- about ten percent of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. For comparison, the United States, the world's largest emitter of heat-trapping gases, produces about 7.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year. 70 percent of emissions result from the burning of peatlands, while 30 percent result from drainage, according to the report, titled Peatland degradation fuels climate change.
Rain bring haze reprieve in Indonesia, Singapore
(10/27/2006) Rain has brought a temporary reprieve for areas affected by forest fires-caused haze in Indonesia according to a report from Reuters. Officials at Sultan Thaha airport in Jambi province, on the island of Sumatra, said that planes are again taking off and landing after a 10-day closure due to low visibility, according to Reuters. In Singapore, the pollution index was at 19, down from Thursday's reading of 38, and a high of 128 on October 7, its worst level since the 1997-1998 fires. In Kuala Lumpur, the Air Pollution Index stood at 24 on Thursday, down from 72 on Tuesday, according to local reports.
Forest fires result from government failure in Indonesia
(10/16/2006) Indonesia is burning again. Smoke from fires set for land-clearing in South Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sumatra are causing pollution levels to climb in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok, resulting in mounting haze-related health problems, traffic accidents, and associated economic costs. The country's neighbors are again clamoring for action but ultimately the fires will burn until they are extinguished by seasonal rains in coming months
Fires in Central America worsen air quality in Texas
(10/10/2006) Agricultural fires in Central America can impact air quality and climate in Texas, Oklahoma, and other parts of the southern United States according to new research from NASA.
Forest fires causing mercury pollution in North America
(08/21/2006) Increasing numbers of wildfires due to climate change could worsen mercury pollution in North America according to a new study from researchers at Michigan State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Canadian Forest Service. Wildfires are releasing mercury long ago sequesterd in Northern wetlands.
Forest fires have high cost to health
(08/10/2006) Forest fires have a huge impact on human health according to a new study from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada which attempted to put a pricetag on the actual economic losses caused by a 2001 fire that burned 116,000 hectares of forest land and settlements Chisholm, Alberta.
Climate change fuels more forest fires in the United States
(07/06/2006) New research says the frequency of large forest fires has increased in the western United States since the mid-1980s as spring temperatures climbed, mountain snows melted earlier and summers got hotter. The new findings, published in the July 6 issue of Science Express, suggest that climate change, not fire suppression policies and forest accumulation, is the primary driver of recent increases in large forest fires.
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