26 Aug 2010 13:31

Wildfire damage in Russia may top $300 billion

MOSCOW. Aug 26 (Interfax) - Losses from Russian wildfires may top $300 billion, Biodiversity Conservation Center Director Alexei Zimenko said at a Thursday press conference at the Interfax main office.

Environmentalists estimate the destruction of one hectare of forests at $25,000, he said.

"We used a very simple method based on only two parameters - the cost of commercial wood and the cost of reforestation - in our calculations. Tentative findings show that economic damage from the construction of one hectare of forests stands at approximately $25,000," he said.

The method does not include other parameters, including the cleanup of burned territories and 50 years of care for newly planted trees, he said.

Damage from the death of animals and birds in wildfires was not estimated either, the environmentalist said.

He quoted the Global Fire Monitoring Center that estimated the overall wildfire zone in Russia at no less than 10-12 million hectares in 2010.

"The overall damage tops $300 billion if we multiply that number by $25,000. That is only the cost of commercial wood and standard reforestation," he noted.