Fires: can a burnt forest recover?

DECRYPTION – While the hinterland of Saint-Tropez is engulfed in flames, charred trees could regenerate. But only under certain conditions, according to specialists.

Can a forest rise from its ashes? The question is on everyone’s lips in the face of the tragic spectacle of the thousands of hectares of forest devastated each year. Globally, the scourge has spared no continent: 900,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest burned in 2018, 10 million hectares in Australia in 2019, and 21 million hectares in Siberia in 2020. In the south of the France, the most serious this summer takes place in the Var, where already 6,000 hectares of forests and scrubland have been destroyed by flames. Trees decades old reduced to ashes in a matter of hours. Are they irretrievably lost?

After a fire, there is always a reconquest of vegetation, but it can never reproduce in exactly the same way.», Explains Laurent Velasco, head of the National Forestry Office (ONF) for the Bouches-du-Rhône and Vaucluse departments. A forest is an evolving ecosystem, the constitution of which follows several stages, explains the specialist.

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