Is fire natural in the Amazon?
Fires are a natural part of some ecosystems, such as the savannahs of Africa. Not so the Amazon. “Tropical forests do not naturally burn,” says Alexander Lees, senior lecturer in conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University. “The species that occupy them have no evolutionary adaptations towards fire.” In fire-dependent ecosystems, trees have much thicker bark as a protection against fires, but this is not found in Amazonian trees, where half of the trees may perish. Lees explains that “once these trees die and fall over, they open up the forest canopy, causing the understorey to dry and become more fire-prone. This starts a vicious cycle of more fires and more degradation.” The Amazonian biome could take many, many years to recover
– if it ever does.