Effects of fire on forest fauna
In forests where fire is not a natural disturbance, it can have devastating impacts on forest vertebrates and invertebrates – not only killing them directly, but also leading to longer-term indirect effects such as stress and loss of habitat, territories, shelter and food. Fire is a vital and natural part of the functioning of numerous forest ecosystems. Humans have used fire for thousands of years as a land management tool. Fire is one of the natural forces that has influenced plant communities over time and as a natural process it serves an important function in maintaining the health of certain ecosystems. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century, changes in the human-fire dynamic and an increase in El Niño frequency have led to a situation where fires are now a major threat to many forests and the biodiversity therein.
Forest fires have many implications for biological diversity. At the global scale, they are a significant source of emitted carbon, contributing to global warming which could lead to biodiversity changes. At the regional and local level, they lead to change in biomass stocks, alter the hydrological cycle with subsequent effects for marine systems such as coral reefs, and impact plant and animal species’ functioning. Smoke from fires can significantly reduce photosynthetic activity and can be detrimental to health of humans and wild animals.
For decades, many locals communities believed that burning forest vegetation attracts rain and each year thousands of hectares of forest land are lost in the flames, endangering both human and wildlife population. In early 2019, the Mount Kenya forest ecosystem was hit by a series of fires which resulted in the death of several animals and the destruction of parts of the area’s moorland and bamboo vegetation.
Importance’s of forest conservation
Forest conservation as the name suggests is the preservation and the protection of forests. It also involves the reversal of deforestation and environmental pollution. The preservation of all natural resources is absolutely essential for the balance of our ecosystem.
Importance of Forests
Let us take a look at why forests are so very important to us and our environment. We are basically dependent on forests for our survival. And so their conservation is of essential importance.
- The most important function of forests is that it produces mass amounts of oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. Oxygen is the main respiratory gas for all animals, it ensures our survival.
- And while photosynthesis, trees also absorb carbon dioxide from the air. This is one of the main pollutants of air pollution. Hence forests also reduce air pollution.
- Forests also prevent soil erosion and keep soil pollution in check. Deforestation, in fact, leads to soil erosion on a large scale since the topsoil comes loose.
- Forests also play an important part in the water cycle and control moisture levels of our ecosystem.
- And finally, forests are the natural home and habitat for millions of species of animals, birds, and insects.
Forest fires in Tsavo national park
Another fire has broken out in Tsavo East National Park making it the fourth to have ravaged the park in a span of two months.
Last week, July 23, 2020, a huge fire raged the Tsavo National Park consuming hundreds of acres, less than a month after another fire razed 180 acres of forest. In May, an inferno destroyed more than 4,000 acres of vegetation in Tsavo East before another inferno destroyed 180 acres in June in the same Park. We have to look for measures to control and mitigate these fires if we are to conserve the wildlife in these habitats/ faunas
Ways to Conserve the Forest
Forest biodiversity can be controlled in several ways;
While deforestation cannot be avoided completely, we must look to control it. Young and immature trees should not be felled as far as possible. We must look to avoid large-scale commercial deforestation as well. Adapting practices such as clear-cutting or selective cutting will be beneficial in the long run.
Protect against Forest Fires
Forest fires are the most common and deadly cause of loss of forests. They can start due to natural causes or can be accidents caused by man or even intentional in some cases. Once a fire spreads in a forest it is very difficult to control. Precautions must be taken for such incidents. Making fire lanes, spreading chemicals to control fire, clearing out dry leaves and trees etc.
This is the process by which we plant more trees in the area. We try to increase the forest cover by manual transplantation, or fresh plantation of trees. It is an attempt to balance our ecosystem to reduce the effects of deforestation and environmental pollutions of all types.
Better Farming Practices
Slash and burn farming, overgrazing by cattle, shifting agriculture are all farming practices that are harmful to the environment and particularly to forests. We must keep all these practices under control. Through engaging the local communities in dialogues as well as empowering them on better farming practices that are beneficial to the ecosystem in general.