Human-caused ground fires are slowly destroying forest habitat of the Amur leopard in Southwest Primorye without which this rare cat will not survive. Satellite monitoring indicates that approximately 50% of Southwest Primorye burns at least once every 10 years. Recurrent fires over the past century have converted what should be a luxuriant forest of mixed coniferous and deciduous trees into grasslands. Today, only 57% of Southwest Primorye remains forested. The fires destroy habitat for highly endangered species such as Amur tigers and leopards and have negative impacts on human health and the local economy. All over Russia, such fires are increasingly recognized as a serious problem and an important source of black carbon emissions contributing to global warming and melting of the Arctic permafrost ice.
Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve burns - April 2011
(© Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve)