For many years now, scientists and biologists tried to grasp the effect of the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear catastrophe on biological wildlife. One of the most contaminated areas following the event is a strip of 10 to 15 km² of Scots pine wood (lat. pinus silvestris) The most affected zone is approximately 2 km away from the power station:
“(the) Zone suffered a complete loss of conifers with partial damage to hardwoods (the so-called "Red forest"). Scholars estimate that the level of absorbed doses of external gamma radiation exposure in 1986–1987 was 8000–10000, with the maximum extent of the dose was 500 mR/h and more. The total area of this zone is approximately 400 hectares. In this zone, the pine tree trunks completely died and pine needles exhibited a brick color. The entire forest was virtually "burned down"—having accumulated a significant amount of radioactive emissions. Heavy radioactive contamination of the dead trees led to their burial. On the territory of the "Red Forest", immediate actions were implemented to restore the forests” (1)
Inside of that zone heavy mutations were imminent: Pine trees looked more like bushes then trees, gigantism and also deformity in the branches were very common. The less affected zones don't show as many deformities, nevertheless, the trees suck up radionucleides and especially wildfires are an important risk for releasing more radioactivity trough smoke clouds that could easily affect all of Europe.
In 1992, a large wildfire burnt down undetected and released massive amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere. To this date, nothing is known about the consequences of the great fire of 1992. Sergiy Zibtsev, a professor from the Forestry Institute at the Kiev University of Life Sciences is one of the few international experts on the issue. Recently dispatched to Japan to ascertain the risks of the Fukushima Daiich'i Nuclear Meltdowns to the wildlife in the region. Zibtsev has worked for almost 20 years in the concerned Chernobyl region, trying to figure out the risks and development of forest life. He also coordinates with the 100 firefighters permanently stationed in the area to spot wildfires:
Picture clearly showing the growth change and radiation marks on the year rings. Picture taken in Southern Belarus, Gomel Region 2012 CC SA 2.0 Share & give credit to blog & name
James D. Brownridge and Noel K. Yeh
Department of Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy
State University of New York at Binghamton Binghamton,
NY 13902, U.S.A.