Fundraising Appeal: Catastrophic Fires around Lake Baikal, Siberia

by David Moon, Lead Investigator, Leverhulme International Network, Exploring Russia’s Environmental History and Natural Resources

The pristine taiga forests surrounding Lake Baikal in Siberia—the world’s largest freshwater lake—have been hit by catastrophic fires during a heatwave this summer. The fires are now getting out of control and emergency services are struggling to cope. The ecological consequences are potentially very serious.

Catastrophic Forest Fires at Lake Baikal. Photograph: SOS Baikal Buryatia.

I was very fortunate to visit Lake Baikal with an international group of environmental historians at the end of July. We saw forest fires around the lake, much of which was shrouded with smoke. The situation is now much worse, as reported in the English language Siberian newspaper.

We have been contacted by some of the local scientists we met, with an urgent appeal for help:

Here in Buryatia we face a catastrophic situation with fires in the forests around Lake Baikal. Russian authorities (both federal and regional) demonstrate an inability to stop them. Moreover, they try to conceal the scale of destruction. Meanwhile about 180,000 hectares of woods are being destroyed by fires and the weather forecast is very pessimistic. Many people here in Buryatia fight the fires as volunteers.

My friends organized a public committee, SOS Baikal Buryatia. They raise funds and buy equipment, food, costumes, medication, etc. for the volunteers fighting the fires. I have just returned from a meeting: we face a lack of funds . . . I guarantee with my reputation that all your donations will be used only for the support of volunteers.

Are you able to donate to support the efforts? Any contribution is welcome. To make a donation, please visit the Facebook page or website where you will find the USD bank account number to which you can contribute.

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