Extensive research has proven that wildfires are occurring five times more often in recent decades.
We are all shocked at the horrifying pictures and videos coming out of the Californian town of Paradise following its devastation by the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. As I write this, 81 people have lost their lives, 699 are missing, and 11,713 homes have been destroyed. My sympathy goes out to all those who have lost family, friends and property.
Wildfires are occurring more frequently
Unfortunately, research is showing that wildfires are occurring five times more frequently now than last century. Moreover, forest fires are burning six times the land area when compared to past occurrences, and lasting almost five times longer.
Forest fires and climate change
According to scientific research, climate change and global warming are the two main culprits to be blamed for the sudden increase in frequency and intensity of wildfires.
Greenhouse gas emissions are causing the global temperature to increase. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation, which means the atmosphere draws more moisture from soils, making the land drier. A warmer climate also leads to earlier snowmelt, which causes soils to be drier for longer. And dry soils become more susceptible to fire.
Drier conditions and higher temperatures increase not only the likelihood of a wildfire starting, but also its duration and severity. This means that when wildfires break out, they expand faster, burn more area, and move with greater unpredictability.
Fire safety while hiking
The prevalence of wildfires in Belgium is rather limited, although when they occur they often affect biologically valuable nature areas. In 2011, for instance, 2144 hectares of land burnt within the Natura 2000 network of protected nature areas.
However, it’s still essential that any responsible hiker prioritizes fire safety during hiking, whether in a low risk or high risk area. As many of my readers not only hike in Belgium but elsewhere around the world, I thought it was appropriate to address some fire safety practices while hiking.
For this I am indebted to Arun Kumar of Riderstrail, who has put together the informative and comprehensive infographic below. Actually Riderstrail has a wealth of interesting topics on hiking, so please pay Arun a visit and check it out.
For more detailed explanations of the points covered in this infographic, go to Arun’s specific post on fire safety while hiking, at Riderstrail.