Fire and Biodiversity:
Fire in the Earth system is not only a destructive power, but influences many ecosystems worldwide in a creative manner. The history of fire goes back to the origin of terrestrial plants. Under the impact of fire, numerous biological communities were altered and plants developed new traits in order to adapt to fire.
About eight million years ago, for example, the border between savannah and forest was shifted through a fire-grass-feedback, resulting in a large-scale change of biodiversity. Human use of fire increased the impact on local biodiversity further by creating new, diverse natural and cultural landscapes at the expense of forests.
Present hot spots of fire activity show extreme versions of this kind of development: the extension of savannah at the expense of forest is being repeated in the Amazon region, but this time on account of human intervention.
Mega fires in the western US, which are being influenced by humans and climate change, destroy large forest areas, thereby also increasing the biodiversity in some places. In the Mediterranean, the current rural exodus leads to an altered fire activity, which could, in some mountainous regions, turn into ecological catastrophes. Such processes might become even more likely as a result of future climate change.