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Wildfires in Russia scorch world’s largest freshwater lake

Raging wildfires this season in Russia have turned the shores of Lake Baikal, the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake in Siberia, into an inferno. NewsHour's Stephen Fee reports.

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  • STEPHEN FEE:

    On the shores of Lake Baikal, in Russian Siberia, unusually warm temperatures and dry conditions made for dangerous wildfire conditions this summer.

    At least 1,500 square miles of forest burned until the flames died down in the past few weeks, leaving scorched earth and tree stumps where a once-lush forest stood.

    Ecologists say the fires here could have a long-lasting impact on the delicate ecosystem around the lake, which is home to an estimated 20 percent of the world's fresh, unfrozen water.

  • EKATERINA UDEREVSKAYA, ECOLOGIST RUSSIAN:

    Since the forests are being destroyed, groundwater gets lost. Drought starts, the springs that are still flowing dry out. It lowers the level of Baikal, which was already lower than critical.

  • STEPHEN FEE:

    The lake is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world, home to 570 types of plants and more than 1,300 animal species, some of which are endangered.

    Volunteers are now trying to plant one million new trees to restore the landscape.

  • IRINA VOLODCHENKO, VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR:

    Any citizen, any resident can come to the nursery, collect a sapling and plant it in a plot of ground. Anyone can join this action which allows you to express your concern about the common problem.

  • STEPHEN FEE:

    Even a million new trees won't replace all the greenery lost, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. but volunteers say it's a start.

  • IGOR FILIMONOV, VOLUNTEER:

    It's just that we're thinking of our future, of the future of our children for the kind of country we will live in and the air we will breathe.

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