Thursday, January 16, 2020

Preventing Wildfires

How to prevent wildfires
Coastal Rainforest in Tambrauw Mountains
Recent wildfires in Australia and other parts of the world have raised questions about ways that we can do to prevent them. Around 90% of them are caused by human activities. Wildfires can only happen if there are 3 important components:
  • Heat: Sun, lightning, eruption from a volcano, man-made fire from matches or campfire, and cigarette butts,
  • Flammable materials (dry wood, leaves) on the forest floor,
  • Oxygen.
Massive wildfires can spread quickly to all corners of the forest, to farmlands, and residential areas. Smokes that are emitted are blown by the wind to far away places including to big cities. For instance, wildfires in Sumatra island of Indonesia emitted toxic haze that reached cities in Sumatra, Singapore and Malaysia. City dwellers reported respiratory ilnesses. Thick smokes in the sky forced airlines to cancel or delay flights to affected cities.
To prevent bushfires or wildfires from happening again in the future, we must make sure that at least 1 or 2 components that I mention above can be removed or controlled. It is obvious that we cannot remove oxygen from the huge forest area. So, the components that we can remove or control are man-made heat source and the flammable materials. 
To prevent man-made heat source from being introduced into the forest, we need to provide educational information in public spaces. It can be a big infographic board installed at the entrance gate to a forest, which says that campers must put off their campfire with water. Notice boards can also contain infographics that ban smokers from tossing their cigarrete butts into the roadside bush. 
We need water to extinguish fire. Water tankers and firefighting devices are needed to stop massive forest fires. This could be carried out in forest areas that are accessible by roads. Wildfires that happen in remote mountaineous region can be stopped using water bomber airplanes or helicopters. Modern aerial firefighting aircraft such as Beriev Be-200 can quickly refill its tanks while flying low on the surface of a lake or sea. Older amphibious aircrafts, the PBY Catalina and Canadair CL-215, are also used as water bombers.
Roads inside the Forest
Countries that have got rainforest near residential areas build roads into the forests which they can use for recreational  or ecotourism purposes, thinning of forest, removing debris and putting off forest fire. The roads themselves also function as fire brakes. However, these roads must not be abused for doing more ilegal logging and pouching activities.
Using Forest Debris as Biomass Fuel
To remove flammable forest debris from rainforest, we can extract the fallen branches, twigs and leaves on forest floor, and use them as materials for house constructions and furniture making. The biomass can also be used as fuel for power plant. The simplest way is by using firewood as fuels for biomass cooking stoves. Wood as fuel for home cooking can be cut into small pieces or turned into pellets. The introduction of LPG cooking stoves that use cheaper and "cleaner fossil fuel" has pushed biomass cooking stoves out of the market.
Proper public education about the advantage of using biomass fuels for home cooking in preventing forest fire can significantly increase the market share of this biomass cooking stove again.
Livestock Animal as Firefighter
Bringing livestock to forest, and bush areas for grazing can effectively create fire-brake zones that prevent future accidental wildfires.
Artificial Water Reservoirs
Some countries build hundreds of water reservoirs or man-made lakes using recycled water to support their agricultural industry. The same water can also be used to extinguish wildfires if it occurs again in the region. - written by Charles Roring
Related Posts:
We need Rainforest
We use Natural Resources Faster than What the Earth can Replenish

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