Find all the answers here! In this article, we will explain the process of forest fires and the causes of this most dangerous phenomenon. Is this a natural or a man-made phenomenon? Let’s explore with CHANGE!

The process and causes of forest fires: Why and how do wildfires start?

The forest fire process originates just like a normal burning process. Thus, forest fires are formed based on 3 main factors: a heat source, oxygen, and combustible substance. The heat source of a forest fire is the temperature of the surrounding environment. There are 3 forms of flammable substance which are solid, liquid, and gas. In the forest, the combustible substance is primarily trees. The combustion will begin when supplied with enough oxygen (over 14% of oxygen in the air) and temperature.

According to the above burning process, there are usually 2 leading causes of forest fires

Natural cause: It is from natural factors such as lightning strikes, sparks from landslides, or high air temperatures in the dry season. These are favorable conditions for forest fires. 44% of wildfires in the western United States are caused by lightning strikes. However, the extent of damage from this forest fire is not severe.

Human cause: These are factors derived from human activities, including smoking, burning forests for agricultural land, etc. According to statistics from the US Department of the Interior, 90% of fires are caused by human activities.

The role of forest fires in the ecosystem

Based on the elements causing forest fires, forest fires are part of the forest ecosystem, occurring in cycles depending on the characteristics of each forest area, climate, etc. Forest fires help clear the old vegetation and serve as a basis for renewable vegetation to grow. This seemingly devastating phenomenon will help clear dense forest canopy and capture sunlight, stimulating new growth. 

Why do forest fires happen more often?

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Although forest fires play a crucial role in vegetation, the number of forest fires has increased rapidly. In Vietnam, according to the General Statistics Office, during the period of 10 years from 2009 to 2018, forest fires have destroyed nearly 22 thousand hectares of the forest. In California, USA, the number of forest fires in 2020 is more than 17,000 cases compared to about 7,000 cases in 2012. This causes many serious consequences such as significant emission of greenhouse gases, affecting biodiversity and human life. But why is there such a shocking increase in forest fires?

Since climate change has led to global warming and an increase in the average temperature of each area, it also contributes to the risk of wildfires. Global warming is mainly due to greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4) from coal mining and transportation. This shows us the significant influence of humans on the environment, even in the areas where we have never been to. Therefore, each individual needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through solutions such as saving electricity.

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