Forest fires cause every year enormous damages to the planet and destroy on average 20 millions hectares of forest with loss of human lives and risks to human health. The damage to the environment and the ecosystem are dramatic and the economical and financial losses are immense.
Forest fires cause 200 fatalities each year, mainly fire fighters. In addition smoke from forest fires kills 340.000 people each year, mainly because of inhaling invisible particles known as PM2.5. Health risks are mainly for very young children, people with chronical medical conditions, especially heart and lung diseases and elderly people. (see report European Commission).
Over the last decade the number of forest fires has increased, as well as the number of hectares affected, the duration and the intensity. This is mainly caused by global warming and climate change. Today, an estimated 5.6 billion metric tons of carbon are released into the atmosphere each year due to fossil fuel burning. Burning of tropical forest contributes another 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon per year, or about 30 % of the total. (see report NASA Earth Observatory)
Economic and Financial damage
The economic and financial damage in the United States alone is estimated at US$ 200 billion every year. This includes prevention, detection, suppression on the ground and from the air, loss of timber, houses, buildings, economic consequences caused by evacuation and loss of production. (see White paper to United Nations)
The trend in occurrence of forest fires is rising, due to global warming causing longer draught periods and more draught areas. These conditions cause more fuel in these areas with increasing intensity and more CO2 emissions. In 2015 forest fires in Indonesia (Borneo and Sumatra) have laid a blanket of smoke over Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and Singapore for an uninterrupted period of 3 months, causing more pollution each day then the entire economy of the USA. (see report WRI)