Wildfires in Korea
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Lately, I have been reading news about wildfires happening around Korea. The two major incidents are the fires at Uljin county last March and at the town of Yanggu last April. According to the news, the fire at Uljin, which is a coastal town in the east of Korea, took more than 8 days to completely be put out. It is said to be the longest time to extinguish a forest fire since 1986! It also damaged 23,993 hectares of woodland and a total of at least 1,000 facilities and homes combined. One good thing was that a nearby nuclear power plant was spared from blaze. Overall, this is considered to be Korea’s most devastating wildfire on record. The fire at Yanggu, on the other hand, caused lesser damage but it still destroyed 759 hectares.
Aside from those, there were small scales wildfires also happening around the country. Authorities say that the dry weather and strong winds during springtime can contribute to frequent wildfires. So, most forest fires are expected to occur at this time. Residents and visitors of forest areas should always be careful to not cause any of these incidents. It was reported that the fire at Yanggu started because a resident was burning fallen leaves.
Globally, wildfires are said to be worsening. There were many other devastating fires that caught the world’s attention in the last few years like the Australian bushfire season from 2019 to 2020, the Siberian wildfires in 2019, and the California wildfires in 2020. Given that, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) predicts about a 50% rise in wildfires by the end of the century (2100). This will mainly be due to the worsening of climate change and the use of land such as logging. The increasing temperatures contribute to starting and spreading blazes while with logging, forests are burned to make way for farming.
Despite the frequency of wildfires recently, many governments are not as prepared to prevent such environmental disasters yet. Most have been observed to act only when the fires have already happened. The UN, therefore, calls for more attention and concern on this – something that should be part of the overall fight against climate change.
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