Sac State Professor Compares Amazon Fires With California’s Regenerative Wildfires

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SACRAMENTO — For three decades, Sacramento State biological sciences professor Ron Coleman has studied the world’s rainforests.

With fires continuing to burn in the dense trees of South America, Coleman said the flames there do not have the same potentially positive ecological impacts seen from fires in California.

“Burning is a critical part of our forests here; some of our trees will not grow unless the ground burns. The seeds need that. That’s not the way the Amazon works,” Coleman explained.

For California, Coleman says the life force of its forests is in the nutrient-dense soil. However, in the Amazon, it is the trees themselves that hold the power.

When the trees go, the literal trickle-down effect is widespread.

“For instance, the trees they produce fruits. The fruits drop into the river; that’s what feeds the fish,” Coleman said. “The fish digest these fruits, they don’t digest the seeds, but then when they swim to another part of the landscape, they poop out the seeds and new trees are planted. It’s all connected.”

While fires are not uncommon in the Amazon, Coleman told FOX40 the seasonal dryness has allowed the fires to spread, making for dramatic scenes playing out over vast swaths of land.

Now, with the world watching, Coleman hopes more attention will be paid to what he feels is an Earth in flux.

“This just shows us how big things can get, how quickly. This is one of the lessons of this,” he said. “Maybe people will take a little bit more notice of what’s going on. The world is changing and it’s changing quickly.”


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