Tel Aviv: Wildfires destroy forests and hasten erosion of the burnt soil which slows efforts toward its natural regeneration, but hope is at hand in the form of organic polymer.
Working with organic polymer Polyacrylamide (PAM), Assaf Inbar, graduate student at Tel Aviv University's Porter School of Environmental Studies, and his supervisors tested their method in Israel's Birya forest that was burnt by fire.
Following a wildfire, soil often erodes because of burnt vegetation. Deprived of the vegetative cover, the soil can't absorb intense rains, causing a run-off.
The researchers then turned to PAM, widely used in agriculture to prevent soil erosion, according to a university statement.
They tested PAM on samples of burnt soils both in the lab and under natural rainfall. These show that burnt soils remained much more stable with PAM than without, reports Ibar, reducing erosion by 50 percent.
First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011, 12:21