While the government of Siberia reported on May 26 that 319,000 acres (129,000 hectares) had burned this year, environmental activists insist the number is far higher. Greenpeace Russia believes officials and regional authorities intentionally announce figures that underestimate the scale of forest fires. Using open source satellite data, Greenpeace says about 7.4 million acres (3 million hectares) have burned as of May 23.
Below is an excerpt from an article at the Siberian Times:
…Rosleskhoz, the Federal Agency for Forestry, a federal executive body responsible for oversight of forestry issues, admitted that official figures from regions may be at odds with the actual area of raging fires. Among other reasons this could be ‘because of political factors’.
The agency promised to provide correct data about damage at the end of the [fire] season.
Nikolai Krotov, deputy head of Rosleskhoz, said: ‘We have concerns about differences in Amur region, Buryatia, Chelyabinsk and Irkutsk regions. We don’t rule out that there can be political factors, subjective factors, when information is submitted in a different way.’
Greenpeace has argued for information in real time, not at the end of the season, so fire-fighting resources can be switched between regions to be deployed in most needed areas.
—Wildfires in Russia may be sending smoke to northern Canada, May 22, 2016
—Early spring fires in Russia, April 1, 2016