During the 2017 wildfire season, many fires raged across the globe, alarming both people and scientists with wildfires sparkling in such places where it was unprecedented before, like Greenland, where flames ravaged through peat bogs in a continent that’s mostly covered in ice.
While the majority were questioning whether these fires were connected to global warming, considering their intensity and some unusual locations, people living in the affected areas had to deal with the reality of losing valuables to the devastating fires.
In January 2017, a series of fires in Chile claimed 11 lives, 5 of whom were firefighters, and wiped the town of Santa Olga off the ground. The flames took everything in their path, from trees to houses, animals and people alike. It’s been estimated that the fires burned out around 580,000 hectares of land, a size close to the state of Delaware. President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has described the ordeal as the “greatest forest disaster” in Chilean history.
After a month of raging fires and the tremendous loss of life, the people of Chile had a lot to recover from. While houses could be rebuilt and people rehoused, the loss of forests and their inhabitants was something that wasn’t easy to undo. But one lady decided to try and change the situation, one seed at a time.
Francisca Torres runs an environmental nongovernmental organization called Pewos that focuses on the well-being of animals. She is also the owner of three beautiful border collies, an intelligent and quick breed of dog originally bred to herd sheep.
While it would take years for a single person to undo the damage done to the forests, a company could do so much more than that. That’s why Torres enlisted the help of her sister Constanza and three adorable pups.
A 6-year old Das and her daughters, Olivia and Summer, had their work set out before them, in endless scorched fields and a labyrinth of blackened trees. Months had passed after the fire, but none of the animals returned to what was once their home, simply because all the vegetation was completely gone, turned into a pile of ash. Without food or shelter, there was no hope for any life to return.
To replant the lush forests and fields, Francisca and her sister decided to equip the pooches with bags full of seeds and let them speed through the burnt forests, spreading the tree seeds all across their path. With special backpacks and all the energy in the world, the trio covered quite a radius, bringing hope to both people, and animals, to find refuge and home once more.
Torres says that picking her dogs up for the task was definitely a calculated decision. After all, a single person doesn’t normally cover long disances on a daily basis, while the doggies are capable of covering around 30km a day, each! Not only is it beneficial to the environment, but it also gives the pets a chance to be outside.
Of course, even though the dogs were unaware that they were working, they got “paid” anyways. Every time the seed satchel became empty, the pups received a treat and the bags were refilled once more for a new round. That way the dogs were extra-motivated to get the job done, as well got a good dose of exercise. Let’s not forget that a tired dog is a happy dog!
The initiative seems to have paid off as there are reports of grass and vines sprouting in the affected areas. Torres believes that it’s a push towards something bigger and hopes that the scorched land will soon turn green again, as it should be.