Forest fires and problems associated with them have been very much in the news in recent time. The problem of prevention and control of calamities of this kind, which threaten all continents-Antarctica being the only exception - is still with us despite the progress of modern science and technology.
In a recent article on this subject American publicist, Dr. D. Gantenbein pointed out that by the late July of 2002 the whole of the American West seemed to be aflaim. More than 1.5 rain hectares of forests had been reduces to ashes by that time-twice as much as the size of average annual losses over the past decade. The National Center for Fire Prevention in Boise, Idaho, remained on high alert for more than a month. Forestry cultivation and management agencies said they had already run out of their combined budget of one billion dollars. And bearing in mind that other organizations also had to spend huge sums on fire prevention and control, the year of 2002 could be regarded as the most expensive "firefighting" year in the history of the United States.
The scale of the damage and losses caused by forest fires are really impressive. According to Acad. A. Isaev, Director of the RAS Center for Problems of Ecology and Forests' Productivity "the area of forest losses from fires on the territory covered by Russia's forestry funds is 5 times greater than the territory of planned forest fellings.., and the scale of annual losses from forest fires is comparable with the size of profits from forestry industry and is much greater in some years."
One can get the impression that these deplorable statistics are the result of the sorry plight of this country's federal services. And this is real-
ly so in many respects. Russia's federal budget for 2001 provided some 50 times lower allocations for that branch as compared with the United States (984.4 mln rubles against 1.8 bin dollars). But what is really paradoxical: the area affected by forest fires in Russia was fou ... Read more