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WWF-Russia will deliver urgent help to the protected areas of Yakutia threatened by wildfires

12 august 2021
The Fund has launched an emergency fundraising campaign. All collected money will be used for firefighting equipment for the regional specially protected natural territories of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
The Fund has launched an emergency fundraising campaign. All collected money will be used for firefighting equipment for the regional specially protected natural territories of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)

"After detailed consultations with our colleagues in protected areas and the Ministry of Ecology of Yakutia, we've got the list of the most needed equipment, and I hope we will soon send the first batch of equipment - several ATVs with trailers, fire-fighting backpacks, overalls, etc. We act as quickly as possible, although this is hindered by a certain shortage of even elementary means – shovels and fire hoses, and the remoteness of many protected areas,– says Irina Onufrenya, director of WWF Russia's biodiversity conservation program. – We don't have a representative office in Yakutia, since we currently do not work much in the region, but we've got friends, partners, and associates who take care of the nature of Yakutia. More than a third of the republic is covered by specially protected natural territories, many of which are now in danger, and we could not stay away”.

Yakutia (the Republic of Sakha) has never been one of the most ''burning" regions. But in recent years, the fire-hazardous situation has changed. In 2020, tundra fires threatened the Kytalyk National Park, the birthplace of the most Siberian cranes in the world. In total, 8.8 million hectares were affected by fires during the entire fire season. Now in  2021, the wildfire was concentrated in the forest regions, and more than 9 million hectares have already been affected, which is equal to the territory of Portugal. Since the beginning of the fire season, 108 forest fires have been registered in protected areas of regional significance. 85 of them have already been extinguished, but in the conditions of a dry, hot summer and strong wind, the fire is taking over new territories.

When the fire spreads so quickly, even large mammals like moose and bears, which usually escape from the threat, may not have enough time to hide. Small animals are almost guaranteed to die – chipmunks, stoats, etc.  Wildfires are part of the forest life cycle, but when arson and the consequences of climate change are added to the natural causes, and the scale of fires is approaching record levels, the burden on nature is too great.

“If the fire continues to spread, forest fires in Russia may break the anti-record of 2012, when the maximum area covered by fire since the beginning of the XXI century was recorded. But in Yakutia, the situation is already the worst since the beginning of this century, – says Konstantin Kobyakov, the chief coordinator of projects on forests of the high environmental value of WWF Russia. – Now we are taking emergency measures to cope with the consequences, but the problem needs to be solved comprehensively. We need systemic solutions, simultaneous adoption of appropriate measures at the federal and regional levels, as well as joint actions of state authorities, businesses, environmental organizations, and civil society so that such events do not repeat every year and fires do not come unexpectedly.”

As part of assistance in fighting fires in Yakutia, WWF Russia plans to promptly transfer the following to local protected areas:

  • All-terrain vehicles, such as the snowmobile "Trekol", the ATV" Sokol", motorboats for the transfer of mobile teams.

  • Octopus motor pump for transferring water in the absence of reservoirs over long distances, especially in rocky terrain.

  • DJI Mavic 2 Zoom quadcopter for monitoring the spread of forest fires and coordinating the actions of fire extinguishing groups.

  • MTZ and DT tractor with a plow for laying high-quality mineralized strips, etc.

All this equipment is urgently needed right now and WWF-Russia will be grateful for any help. You can find out more details and contribute to the common cause on the urgent project page.

A few days ago, WWF Russia also allocated 2 million rubles to help fight fire in tiger protected areas of Primorye. The foundation also conducts fire-fighting training and contributes to the prevention of fires in protected areas. Read about what needs to be done to prevent large-scale fires in the future.

For additional information please contact
High Conservation Value Forest Projects Coordinator