What can accelerate or slow the recovery of the fire-stricken forest

Over 40 thousand plant species, 1.3 thousand different types of birds and 426 mammals live at the Amazon, the biggest rainforest in the world, with 6.7 million square kilometers. Many specimens of fauna and flora, however, are threatened by the burning that has plagued the region for a few weeks. 

The outbreaks are not limited to the Brazilian Amazon but also spread through Bolivia and Paraguay. 

Satellite data released by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) indicate that during this year, there was an increase of more than 80% in fire outbreaks in Brazil compared to the same period of 2018. 

Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Sciences at Oxford University, UK, says that “it takes between 20 and 40 years, if we allow the forest to regenerate”. However, in an interview with BBC News World,  the academic points out that there are several aspects that can affect this recovery”.  

One of them is how damaged the burnt soil is. If Um deles é o quão danificado está o solo queimado. If it has suffered multiple fires, he says, it is more likely to have permanent damage and its recovery will be much slower. Another factor is related to the proximity between the burnt area and the preserved forest. “If it is close to an intact forest, the birds and animals will follow naturally to the damaged area and will help in recovery.” 

Climate change is another factor that can determine how quickly burned hectares will regenerate. Claire Wordley, researcher at the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambrigde, UK, claims that it is extremely difficult to predict and control. “It has been predicted that if the global temperature gets too high, the Amazon will not be able to produce enough rain to maintain its rainforest. So if the environment gets too hot, the forest can become a savannah,” he told BBC News World.