Recent years have had record-breaking, wildfire seasons – especially on the west coast of North America. British Columbia has lost over 2.86 million (yes million!) acres to deforestation from wildfires while totals are at over 1 million acres for California in the U.S., with another 1-2 million combined in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and surrounding states. Below you can also checkout our video on why California has so many fire, which was part of our State of California video series.
And this is just a part of the overall story, as the wildfires are raging in many regions around the world, including Brazil, Indonesia, Zambia, Greenland and many, many more (here is a forest fires map).
About 90% of wildfires in the United States are started by humans.
In a non-human world, wildfires would mostly be started by lightning strikes.
On average, more than 100,000 wildfires clear 4-5 million acres (1.6-2 million hectares) of land in the U.S. every year. In recent years, wildfires have burned up to 9 million acres (3.6 million hectares) of land.
It takes an average of 2-4 years after a wildfire before reforestation efforts can begin. Saplings simply wouldn’t survive until the soil has begun to naturally replenish, can absorb water, and can support new life. It also takes time to mobilize resources for large-scale reforestation.
Increases in the cost of battling active wildfires have greatly reduced the budgets available for prevention, which creates a domino effect of worsening conditions.
Climate change, as predicted, is fueling longer, stronger, and quicker-to-start wildfires.
After wildfires, pioneer species of plants and fungus are the first to colonize the damaged ecosystem, beginning a chain of ecological succession that leads to biodiversity and stability. When this happens, it is a sign that reforestation can begin in order to hasten recovery.
What is One Tree Planted doing, and can you help?
We’re connecting with our partners on the ground to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This includes Cal Fire, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in California.
Planting trees in the areas that are ready for saplings now, including California, Oregon, British Columbia, Colorado, and Indonesia. Exploring ways to fund initiatives that are complementary to planting trees, such as education programs. And exploring more on-the-ground partnerships in the states or countries where we do not have them yet.
You can help today by planting trees to support forest fire recovery!
Health and safety were of paramount importance, and we at One Tree Planted worked together with our planting partners to ensure that everyone was taking the necessary precautions to reduce the spread of the virus. But while we were all affected in both our personal lives and professional environments, we couldn’t help but make the connection to the health of our planet.
And now that mass vaccination programs are rolling out and restrictions are easing in countries around the world, many of us are thinking about what environmental work will look like in a post-pandemic world. Because as the Coronavirus slowly subsides as a global threat, climate change is only getting more intense — and just as we all came together to address the virus, so too must we come together in force to address the crisis of a rapidly changing climate.
It’s also worth noting that deforestation, pollution, and the consumption of certain wildlife species helps create the conditions in which deadly diseases spread. The more we can restore and preserve biodiversity and adopt common sense consumption practices, the more we can maintain the health of the environment and ourselves. So let’s all take what we learned from 2020 to come together and address the ongoing climate crisis — because just like the pandemic, it’s not going to get better on its own.