Covid-19 Pandemic and Its Environmental Implications: An Investigation of Forest Fires in Northern Iran

Document Type : COVID-19


Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Engineering, College of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


A global health and economic crisis was caused by a pandemic Covid-19 in 2020, which reduced human activity worldwide. As human activities decreased, researchers had the chance to evaluate the impact of humankind on the ecosystem as well as explore the causes behind natural occurrences like forest fires, which are mostly caused by humans. To assess the effect of quarantine on the forest fire situation in northern Iran. Twelve indicators were retrieved from Sentinel satellites, which represent four groups: land surface temperature, air pollutants, vegetation, and humidity. As indicated by preliminary results, the risk of fire decreased by about 34% in 2020 compared with 2018–2019; however, it subsequently increased again in 2021–2022. This leads to the conclusion that Covid-19 had a positive impact on forest health, but there was still an element of uncertainty as different ecological variables come into play. To evaluate this hypothesis in different regions, it is necessary to conduct additional studies, especially using ground-based data. In light of the adverse economic consequences of Covid-19, it is recommended that forest protection policies be implemented more effectively.


Main Subjects

  1. Naqvi, H.R., Mutreja, G., Shakeel, A., Singh, K., Abbas, K., Naqvi, D.F., Chaudhary, A.A., Siddiqui, M.A., Gautam, A.S., Gautam, S., and Naqvi, A.R., 2023. Wildfire-induced pollution and its short-term impact on COVID-19 cases and mortality in California. Gondwana Research, 114, pp.30–39. Doi: 10.1016/
  2. Navarro, K.M., Clark, K.A., Hardt, D.J., Reid, C.E., Lahm, P.W., Domitrovich, J.W., Butler, C.R., and Balmes, J.R., 2021. Wildland firefighter exposure to smoke and COVID-19: A new risk on the fire line. Science of The Total Environment, 760, pp.144296. Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144296
  3. Sugg, M.M., Runkle, J.D., Hajnos, S.N., Green, S., and Michael, K.D., 2022. Understanding the concurrent risk of mental health and dangerous wildfire events in the COVID-19 pandemic. Science of The Total Environment, 806, pp.150391. Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150391
  4. Agyapong, B., Eboreime, E., Shalaby, R., Pazderka, H., Obuobi-Donkor, G., Adu, M.K., Mao, W., Oluwasina, F., Owusu, E., Greenshaw, A.J., and Agyapong, V.I.O., 2021. Mental Health Impacts of Wildfire, Flooding and COVID-19 on Fort McMurray School Board Staff and Other Employees: A Comparative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1), pp.435. Doi: 10.3390/ijerph19010435
  5. Worldometers, Coronavirus Cases, 2023. Available online from
  6. Amador-Jiménez, M., Millner, N., Palmer, C., Pennington, R.T., and Sileci, L., 2020. The Unintended Impact of Colombia’s Covid-19 Lockdown on Forest Fires. Environmental and Resource Economics, 76(4), pp.1081–1105. Doi: 10.1007/s10640-020-00501-5
  7. Haileamlak, A., 2021. The impact of COVID-19 on health and health systems. Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, 31(6), pp.1073
  8. Kolahchi, Z., De Domenico, M., Uddin, L.Q., Cauda, V., Grossmann, I., Lacasa, L., Grancini, G., Mahmoudi, M., and Rezaei, N., 2021. COVID-19 and Its Global Economic Impact. pp 825–837
  9. Zarei, M., and Kaviani Rad, A., 2020. Covid-19, Challenges and Recommendations in Agriculture. Journal of Botanical Research, 2(1), pp.12–15. Doi: 10.30564/jrb.v2i1.1841
  10. Rad, A.K., Shamshiri, R.R., Azarm, H., Balasundram, S.K., and Sultan, M., 2021. Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Security and Agriculture in Iran: A Survey. Sustainability 13
  11. Mousazadeh, M., Paital, B., Naghdali, Z., Mortezania, Z., Hashemi, M., Karamati Niaragh, E., Aghababaei, M., Ghorbankhani, M., Lichtfouse, E., Sillanpää, M., Hashim, K.S., and Emamjomeh, M.M., 2021. Positive environmental effects of the coronavirus 2020 episode: a review. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 23(9), pp.12738–12760. Doi: 10.1007/s10668-021-01240-3
  12. Kaviani Rad, A., Shariati, M., and Zarei, M., 2021. The impact of COVID-19 on air pollution in Iran in the first and second waves with emphasis on the city of Tehran. Journal of Air Pollution and Health, 5(3). Doi: 10.18502/japh.v5i3.5391
  13. Manenti, R., Mori, E., Di Canio, V., Mercurio, S., Picone, M., Caffi, M., Brambilla, M., Ficetola, G.F., and Rubolini, D., 2020. The good, the bad and the ugly of COVID-19 lockdown effects on wildlife conservation: Insights from the first European locked down country. Biological Conservation, 249, pp.108728. Doi:
  14. Poulter, B., Freeborn, P.H., Jolly, W.M., and Varner, J.M., 2021. COVID-19 lockdowns drive decline in active fires in southeastern United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(43). Doi: 10.1073/pnas.2105666118
  15. Mustofa, M.H., Syaufina, L., and Puspaningsih, N., 2022. The estimated total area of forest fire in Siak Regency, Riau Province during the early period of COVID-19 outbreak. In: IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science. IOP Publishing, p 12008
  16. Paudel, J., 2021. Short-run environmental effects of COVID-19: Evidence from forest fires. World Development, 137(1), pp.105120. Doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105120
  17. Vadrevu, K., Eaturu, A., Casadaban, E., Lasko, K., Schroeder, W., Biswas, S., Giglio, L., and Justice, C., 2022. Spatial variations in vegetation fires and emissions in South and Southeast Asia during COVID-19 and pre-pandemic. Scientific Reports, 12(1), pp.18233. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22834-5
  18. Brancalion, P.H.S., Broadbent, E.N., De-Miguel, S., Cardil, A., Rosa, M.R., Almeida, C.T., Almeida, D.R.A., Chakravarty, S., Zhou, M., Gamarra, J.G.P., Liang, J., Crouzeilles, R., Hérault, B., Aragão, L.E.O.C., Silva, C.A., and Almeyda-Zambrano, A.M., 2020. Emerging threats linking tropical deforestation and the COVID-19 pandemic. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, 18(4), pp.243–246. Doi: 10.1016/j.pecon.2020.09.006
  19. Anand, A., 2022. Lockdowns and fire in Madagascar’s parks. Nature Sustainability, 5(7), pp.557–558. Doi: 10.1038/s41893-022-00885-w
  20. Thompson, M.P., Bayham, J., and Belval, E., 2020. Potential COVID-19 Outbreak in Fire Camp: Modeling Scenarios and Interventions. Fire, 3(3), pp.38. Doi: 10.3390/fire3030038
  21. Eklund, J., Jones, J.P.G., Räsänen, M., Geldmann, J., Jokinen, A.-P., Pellegrini, A., Rakotobe, D., Rakotonarivo, O.S., Toivonen, T., and Balmford, A., 2022. Elevated fires during COVID-19 lockdown and the vulnerability of protected areas. Nature Sustainability, 5(7), pp.603–609. Doi: 10.1038/s41893-022-00884-x
  22. Lindsey, P., Allan, J., Brehony, P., Dickman, A., Robson, A., Begg, C., Bhammar, H., Blanken, L., Breuer, T., Fitzgerald, K., Flyman, M., Gandiwa, P., Giva, N., Kaelo, D., Nampindo, S., Nyambe, N., Steiner, K., Parker, A., Roe, D., Thomson, P., Trimble, M., Caron, A., and Tyrrell, P., 2020. Conserving Africa’s wildlife and wildlands through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4(10), pp.1300–1310. Doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1275-6
  23. Cherkaoui, S., Boukherouk, M., Lakhal, T., Aghzar, A., and El Youssfi, L., 2020. Conservation Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Ecotourism Collapse Threatens Communities and Wildlife in Morocco. E3S Web of Conferences, 183, pp.01003. Doi: 10.1051/e3sconf/202018301003
  24. Kideghesho, J.R., Kimaro, H.S., Mayengo, G., and Kisingo, A.W., 2021. Will Tanzania’s Wildlife Sector Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic? Tropical Conservation Science, 14, pp.194008292110126. Doi: 10.1177/19400829211012682
  25. Kustanti, A., 2021. Income adaptation of farmers as long covid-19 pandemy on sustainable ub forest management: a case from Indonesia. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 883(1), pp.012069. Doi: 10.1088/1755-1315/883/1/012069
  26. Laudari, H.K., Pariyar, S., and Maraseni, T., 2021. COVID-19 lockdown and the forestry sector: Insight from Gandaki province of Nepal. Forest Policy and Economics, 131, pp.102556. Doi: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102556
  27. Rafii, A.M., and Millang, S., 2021. Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on fire hazards forest and land in Barru District, South Sulawesi. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 886(1), pp.012001. Doi: 10.1088/1755-1315/886/1/012001
  28. Hilsenroth, J., Grogan, K.A., Crandall, R.M., Bond, L., and Sharp, M., 2021. The Impact of COVID-19 on management of non-industrial private forests in the Southeastern United States. Trees, Forests and People, 6, pp.100159. Doi: 10.1016/j.tfp.2021.100159
  29. Thompson, M.P., Belval, E.J., Dilliott, J., and Bayham, J., 2021. Supporting Wildfire Response During a Pandemic in the United States: the COVID-19 Incident Risk Assessment Tool. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 4. Doi: 10.3389/ffgc.2021.655493
  30. Kganyago, M., and Shikwambana, L., 2021. Did COVID-19 Lockdown Restrictions have an Impact on Biomass Burning Emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa? Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 21(4), pp.200470. Doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2020.07.0470
  31. Wunder, S., Kaimowitz, D., Jensen, S., and Feder, S., 2021. Coronavirus, macroeconomy, and forests: What likely impacts? Forest Policy and Economics, 131, pp.102536. Doi: 10.1016/j.forpol.2021.102536
  32. Rodrigues, M., Gelabert, P.J., Ameztegui, A., Coll, L., and Vega-García, C., 2021. Has COVID-19 halted winter-spring wildfires in the Mediterranean? Insights for wildfire science under a pandemic context. Science of The Total Environment, 765, pp.142793. Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142793
  33. GIS Geography, Iran map, 2022. Available online from
  34. Kaviani Rad, A., Shariati, M., and Naghipour, A., 2022. Analyzing relationships between air pollutants and Covid-19 cases during lockdowns in Iran using Sentinel-5 data. J Air Pollut Heal. doi: 10.18502/japh.v6i3.8233
  35. ESA, Land Surface Temperature, 2023. Available online from
  36. Tropomi, Carbon Monoxide, 2023. Available online from
  37. EOS, NDVI: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, 2023. Available online from
  38. NASA Earth Observatory, 2000. Available online from
  39. EOS, Vegetation Indices To Drive Digital Agri Solutions, 2022. Available online from
  40. Stephens, S.L., Agee, J.K., Fulé, P.Z., North, M.P., Romme, W.H., Swetnam, T.W., and Turner, M.G., 2013. Managing Forests and Fire in Changing Climates. Science, 342(6154), pp.41–42. Doi: 10.1126/science.1240294
  41. Auer, M.R., 2021. Considering equity in wildfire protection. Sustainability Science, 16(6), pp.2163–2169. Doi: 10.1007/s11625-021-01024-8
  42. Newsome, D., 2021. The collapse of tourism and its impact on wildlife tourism destinations. Journal of Tourism Futures, 7(3), pp.295–302. Doi: 10.1108/JTF-04-2020-0053
  43. Edgeley, C.M., and Burnett, J.T., 2020. Navigating the Wildfire–Pandemic Interface: Public Perceptions of COVID-19 and the 2020 Wildfire Season in Arizona. Fire, 3(3), pp.41. Doi: 10.3390/fire3030041
  44. Sanap, S.D., 2021. Global and regional variations in aerosol loading during COVID-19 imposed lockdown. Atmospheric Environment, 246, pp.118132. Doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2020.118132
  45. Rad, A.K., Shamshiri, R.R., Naghipour, A., Razmi, S.-O., Shariati, M., Golkar, F., and Balasundram, S.K., 2022. Machine Learning for Determining Interactions between Air Pollutants and Environmental Parameters in Three Cities of Iran. Sustainability, 14(13), pp.8027. Doi: 10.3390/su14138027
  46. Farias, D.F., Souza, T., Souza, J.A.C.R., Vieira, L.R., Muniz, M.S., Martins, R.X., Gonçalves, Í.F.S., Pereira, E.A.S., Maia, M.E.S., and Silva, M.G.F., 2020. COVID‐19 Therapies in Brazil: Should We Be Concerned with the Impacts on Aquatic Wildlife? Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 39(12), pp.2348–2350. Doi: 10.1002/etc.4888
  47. Kaviani Rad, A., Zarei, M., Pourghasemi, H.R., and Tiefenbacher, J.P., 2022. The COVID-19 crisis and its consequences for global warming and climate change. In: Computers in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Elsevier, pp 377–385
  48. Mohan, M., Rue, H.A., Bajaj, S., Galgamuwa, G.A.P., Adrah, E., Aghai, M.M., Broadbent, E.N., Khadamkar, O., Sasmito, S.D., Roise, J., Doaemo, W., and Cardil, A., 2021. Afforestation, reforestation and new challenges from COVID-19: Thirty-three recommendations to support civil society organizations (CSOs). Journal of Environmental Management, 287, pp.112277. Doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112277