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Wildfires

How do bushfires affect the environment?

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April 20, 2010 7:50PM

Bushfires can have positive and negative effects on the environment.

Some plants require fire to spread their seeds. This is the case with the banksia in Australia. Some species like this actually require the heat and the smoke to release their seeds. Without bushfires, these plants could not reproduce. Similarly, fire can generate new growth in existent plants. Eucalypts, for example, often sprout new growth after a fire.

However, for every positive effect, there's a negative effect as well. Bushfires release huge amounts of smoke and ash which, apart from creating pollution (provoking asthma and causing other health problems), also cause weather changes in the immediate area. Heat pushes up the air, creating cumulus clouds which, if met by air of a different temperature, can result in storms.