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Polish Biebrza National Park: Fire that has not been there for years

Written by on 29 avril 2020

Fires break out every year in Biebrza National Park, but Poland hasn’t seen such a large one in years. Before the flames could be brought under control, Poland’s biggest national park, with a surface area of almost 600 km2 “square kilometres“, was ravaged by wildfires for several days. Many are calling it an environmental tragedy.

Magdalena Melaniuk from the Polish World Wide Fund for Nature spoke to us about the circumstances in which the fire broke out, and what’s its impact might be : “It was most likely caused by illegal grass burning. In these marshy conditions in the Biebrza national park, the heavy equipment cannot be used, so we had to rely on the airplanes and helicopters that were available to put out the fire. And that’s also the reason why it took such a long time to extinguish it. There might be a significant reduction in the population size of many species and even local extinction of entire population of rare species. The fire in Biebrza national park reflects an ongoing change in the climate. In Poland we build dams and dry marshes such as those in Biebrza. We forget that it is natural rivers and their valleys that can actually counteract drought, that we are experiencing right now.

Poland is not the only country in Europe likely to face drought this year and those ahead.

This April is the driest the Czech republic has seen for two years. And droughts in the country are not only intensifying, but starting earlier each year. In Germany, meteorologists forecast a drought that will greatly debilitate the harvest, the second there in the last two years.

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