7. How is biodiversity affected by forest fires?
Forest fires and deforestation go hand in hand. Both have been stealing space from ecosystems, harming a large number of species, especially since the 1970s, the years when hyper-acceleration began, as some scientists have called it. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) “Living Planet Report”, world populations of vertebrates –mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles– have declined by 60% between 1970 and 2014. In Borneo, due to Hostile deforestation and permanent fires, started in the 1970s, the population of the orangutan, which only lives in Borneo and Sumatra, has been depleted in such a way that in a few decades it could be placed on the list of extinct species. In the Australia fires only in 2019, more than a billion diverse animals were lost, not counting insects and other small species.
The consequence of forest fire cycles repeated year after year is one of the main factors in the impoverishment of biodiversity in rainforests and woodlands. When a species disappears, the food or trophic chain undergoes alterations. In some cases, a species can experience a rapid increase in population as its predator disappears. On the other hand, others may suffer declines in their populations due to the increase in their predators. After fires, forests can be invaded by insects that become a disturbing element of the ecological balance of their ecosystems.