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Polyacrylamide mitigates forest fire damage

29/12/2011


Israeli academics have demonstrated how applying polyacrylamide (PAM) can mitigate damage to burnt soils following forest fires.
Following a wildfire, forest soil often erodes rapidly because, deprived of its usual vegetative cover, it cannot absorb intense rainfall. Erosive run-off results and the forest’s natural regeneration is delayed.
PAM is already widely used in agriculture to prevent soil erosion. Working with the material, Assaf Inbar, a graduate student at Tel Aviv University's Porter School of Environmental Studies, tested his method in Israel's Birya forest following a wildfire. Inbar et al. tested PAM on samples of burnt soils both in the laboratory and under natural rainfall. The experiments demonstrated that burnt soils remained much more stable with PAM than without, reducing erosion by as much as 50 percent.

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