Siberian wildfires threaten world's biggest freshwater lake

Three dozens of fires may cause an ecological catastrophe to Lake Baikal in Russia

Siberian wildfires threaten world's biggest freshwater lake

World Bulletin / News Desk

Lake Baikal may face severe damage from wildfires which are burning out of control along its shores. The world’s oldest and deepest lake is facing a potential ecological catastrophe with 36 fires burning in the region.

Baikal is extremely significant for Russia not only in terms of tourism but also ecologically. It is home to 20 percent of the world's unfrozen fresh water.

However, as plumes of smoke billow out in southern Siberia, thousands of hectares of forest are being destroyed around Lake Baikal.

The situation is so bad that a leading Russian politician says the forest fires are the greatest danger threatening the wellbeing of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"The forest fires pose much more of a threat to the lake than uncontained tourism or foreign plants, such as kelp, which can have a major impact on its unique ecological system," said Mikhail Slipenchuk, the deputy head of the Russian parliament's committee on natural resources and ecology.

According to the latest reports from the region's forestry management, there are 36 fires burning in the region, covering an area of 77,000 hectares.

"The most famous tributary is the Selenga River, but there are more than 300 small rivers and streams, which flow into the waters of Baikal. The fires around the banks of the lake are practically killing its water arteries, which could seriously upset the balance of the lake," Slipenchuk added.

An unusually hot summer and a lack of rainfall have made the situation even worse and the local authorities are going to implement measures to try and prevent the damage forest fires could create in the future.

However, Slipenchuk mentioned that more effort needs to be put into preventative measures to ensure that forest fires prove to be less of a threat to the local environment and its ecology and leave Lake Baikal as one of Russia's national treasures.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ağustos 2015, 15:31