RUSSIA – Employees of the Siberian Federal University School of Ecology and Geography jointly with the Sukachev Institute of Forest of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have conducted a unique expedition to study post-fire landscapes in Evenki municipal district of Krasnoyarsk Krai as part of a grant project of the East Siberian Oil and Gas Company, a subsidiary of Rosneft Oil Company. Fieldwork took place near the Tura community.
The total area under study was 600,000 km, 25% of which had been subject to forest fires in the last 20 years. The study will help assess the impact of massive natural fires that have become more frequent in Eastern Siberia during the summer period.
The key objective of the study is to forecast the fires and determine the potential for forest restoration. By carrying out a comprehensive analysis of vegetation and soil at test sites, scientists assess the condition of landscapes after a fire. During the expedition, the ecologists collected soil samples, took readings from temperature and humidity sensors, checked the coordinates of the sites under study and measured permafrost under regular forest fires.
This is the first time that such comprehensive monitoring has been organised in the area. The project has already processed data from ground and remote observations of the post-fire condition of the area under study. Data on the state of vegetation after fires in deciduous forests was obtained by analysing satellite images of the earth and water surface, which show the level of damage and vegetation recovery. Some temperature abnormalities have been recorded in areas disturbed by fires. Moreover, it has been established that the greatest damage to land cover in the extreme conditions of continuous permafrost is caused by stable grassroots fires. They disturb the soil cover, which is the main thermal regulator of the soil environment.
The frequency of forest fires is an urgent issue due to climate change presenting as increased average annual temperatures and decreased precipitation. The fire interval standard is once every 50 years in pine forests and 80 years in deciduous forests. Nowadays, this phenomenon is becoming almost annual, and the forests have no time to recover. According to remote monitoring data, the same areas have started to burn in recent years. Experts believe that unless the necessary measures are taken, there are risks of losing the main wealth of the Siberian taiga–hectares of forest.
Laboratory processing of the data obtained is currently in progress and the material is being analysed and consolidated. The research results will form the basis for assessing the potential of the northern landscapes of the Krasnoyarsk Territory for restoration and will help to develop detailed recommendations for natural resources recovery.