MOSCOW, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- It could take as long as 300 years for the forests scorched by wildfires in central Russia to recover fully, a forest ecologist said.
Russia is in the grips of the hottest summer on record with parts of the country suffering under temperatures of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting drought and crop loss has cost the Russian economy around $15 billion and led Moscow to halt grain exports for the remainder of the year.
Alexander Isayev, an ecologist at Moscow's Center for Forest Ecology and Productivity, said it would take about 15 years for birch trees and other early species to cover the scorched areas.
It may be 300 years, however, before the forests recover completely, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.
The fires are slowing, with 90,000 hectares affected as of Thursday, down from 180,000 hectares Tuesday.
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