Photo by Andrew Coelho on Unsplash

North Macedonia invests too little in the protection of the forests, and the end result of this negative phenomenon is the destruction of vast areas with trees. In the past 5 years, the expenditures and the investments for the protection of the forests in North Macedonia were only MKD 29,516,000 i.e. modest €480,000. In the meantime, the big forest fires that hit the country this year have caused damages of over €31 million, i.e. the damages caused by the wildfires were 10 times higher than the assets that could have been invested in the protection of the forests.

The rule that the prevention is better than the cure doesn’t apply to the big forestry wealth that North Macedonia has. The data provided by the State Statistical Office show that in 2020 and 2019 no funds were invested in the protection of the country’s forestry fund, while most expenditures for the protection of the forests were madein 2015 (MKD 12,197,000) and 2018 (MKD 10,833,000).

At the start of this month, the Public enterprise (PE) National Forests stated for Meta.mk that by the 15th of August, 9,907 hectares were ravaged by around 150 wildfires. It was established that 448,087 cubic meters of wood were destroyed.

Additionally, this public enterprise informed that during the period January – August 2021, 1,329 cases of illegal logging were registered, with 11,792 cubic meters of wood illegally cut. Last year, the authorities registered 3,852 cases of illegal logging, with 26,615 cubic meters of wood cut.

Regarding the rehabilitation of the forests from the wildfires, the PE National Forests told us that they will strive to afforest the areas destroyed by the fires and a joint effort is planned with the owners of the privately owned forests.

“PE National Forests has enough plants at its disposal with which it shall try to save the forests. The recovery will take a long time. The recovery of the destroyed areas will take more decades to reach the phase that the forest was in before it was burned. It is a very long period, which makes the wildfires catastrophic,” said the PE National Forests regarding the forthcoming phase of afforestation of areas destroyed in the wildfires this year.

Otherwise, the preservation of the forest wealth is one of the main factors in lowering the effects of climate change i.e. to prevent any further rise in the air temperatures worldwide. Less destroyed forest areas from wildfires mean less emitted carbon dioxide in the air. It also means a greater possibility of absorbing hazardous matters in the air by the number of trees that weren’t destroyed.

The Ministry of Environment’s data in the third Two-year report about climate change dated from 2020 shows that the Forestry sector has the biggest concessions throughout the years when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

In the years when there aren’t any wildfires, according to the data, the forests have increased efficiency in the absorption of hazardous carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This was the case in 2014 when the trees have absorbed 3,597.4 gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalents (Gg. CO2-eq) into the atmosphere.