In July 2010, hundreds of wildfires broke out across Russia, primarily in the west. What do you think caused these fires?
To find out, read the text below.

The 2010 Russian wildfires

The 2010 Russian wildfires are a series of hundreds of wildfires that broke out across Russia, primarily in the west due to record temperatures and drought in the region. The President of Russia has declared a state of emergency in seven regions for the fires, while 28 other regions were under a state of emergency due to crop faliures caused by the Russian drought.
During the year 2010, Russia experienced generally dry and hot weather starting around late May-early June. Temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius first occurred after June 12, which alone was an abnormality for the country (average mid-June temperatures seldom rise above 30°C). A new record for the highest nationwide temperature in Russia was set on 11 July, at 44.0°C, in Yashkul, Kalmykia (in the European portion), beating the previous record of 43.8°C set on 6 August 1940, also in Kalmykia.
Moscow and Saint Petersburg both recorded temperatures with a high of 42 degrees on July 3, 4 and 5. Average temperatures in the region increased to over 35 degrees. Citizens of Moscow endured nights of 36 degrees, a record for nighttime temperatures since the year 1947.

Effects on grain exports

Since the continuing fires have destroyed a large amount of grain, and because Russia is one of the world's largest exporters of grain, world market prices for cereals, particularly wheat, rose rapidly in early August. This is in addition to the drought and high temperatures that Russia is encountering; in large parts of Russia, the highest temperature are being recorded since records began 130 years ago.
On 2 August 2010, the Russian Grain Union cut its harvest forecast from 81,5–85 million tons down to 72–78 million.In the following days the prediction was reduced to 70–75 million tons. On 5 August 2010, Russia announced a temporary ban on grain exports from 15 August to 1 December.

International assistance

Russia has received assistance in extinguishing the fires from Serbia,Italy, Ukraine,Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Iran, Estonia, Uzbekistan,Venezuela, France, and Germany.
After you read the text, think about the basic facts of the wildfires. Imagine you are a presenter on TV or radio and tell the people what happened. Use the basic facts to write this short news report in 4-5 sentences. Afterwards you can compare your text to a sample solution.

Write about:

  • What caused the fires?
  • What are the consequences of the fires?
  • Who helps Russia in this situation?
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
Since the beginning of July there have been massive wildfires all across Russia. They were caused by extraordinary high temperatures and drought. As a consequence, large amounts of grain have been destroyed and the Russian Grain Union had to cut its harvest forecast from 81,5–85 million tons to 70–75 million tons. On 5 August 2010, Russia even announced a temporary ban on grain exports from 15 August to 1 December. However, Russia receives help from countries all over the world. Amongst them are Serbia, Italy, Ukraine,Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Iran, Estonia, Uzbekistan,Venezuela, France, and Germany.

The wildfires destroy huge stretches of crop fields and forests. Below you can learn vocabulary on the topic "trees". You can practise the words with the vocabulary trainer below.

1. Wordlist

  • tree
    • tree, trees[tɹiː](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a large plant, typically over four meters in height, a single trunk which grows in girth with age and branches which also grow in circumference with age
    • Example:
      • The girl loves to sit under the large tree.
  • trunk
    • trunk, trunks[tɹʌŋk](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the (usually single) upright part of a tree, between the roots and the branches
    • Example:
      • The trunk is so large that you cannot put your arms around it.
  • branch
    • branch, branches[bɹæntʃ](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the woody part of a tree arising from the trunk and usually dividing
    • Example:
      • The new tree finally grew branches.
  • leaf
    • leaf, leaves[liːf](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the usually green and flat organ that represents the most prominent feature of most vegetative plants
    • Example:
      • Many leaves turn red in the fall.
  • root
    • root, roots[ruːt](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the part of a plant, generally underground, that absorbs water and nutrients
    • Example:
      • Sometimes you can see some of the roots of a tree above the ground.
      • Homophone(s):
  • twig
    • twig, twigs[twɪɡ](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a small thin branch of a tree or bush
    • Example:
      • There are two types of twig, vegetative twigs and fruiting spurs.
  • bark
    • bark, barks[bɑː(ɹ)k](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the exterior covering of the trunk and branches of a tree
    • Example:
      • Bark overlays the wood and consists of the inner bark and the outer bark.
      • Synonym(s):
  • fir
    • fir, firs[fɜː(r)](noun)
    • Definition:
      • evergreen conifers with needle-like leaves that are attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup, also having cylindrical cones
    • Example:
      • I can almost smell the fir scent.
      • Homophone(s):
  • cone
    • cone, cones[kəʊn](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the fruit of a conifer
    • Example:
      • Sean likes collecting cones.
  • oak tree
    • oak tree, oak trees(noun)
    • Definition:
      • a tree of the genus Quercus, bearing acorns and having lobed leaves
    • Example:
      • Many oak trees together look beautiful.
  • acorn
    • acorn, acorns[ˈākôrn](noun)
    • Definition:
      • the fruit of the oak, being an oval nut growing in a woody cup or cupule
    • Example:
      • Acorns take between 6 or 24 months (depending on the species) to mature.
  • beech
    • beech, beeches[biːʧ](noun)
    • Definition:
      • a tree of the genus Fagus having a smooth, light grey trunk, oval, pointed leaves and many branches
    • Example:
      • Beeches are native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.
  • birch
    • birch, birch[bərch](noun)
    • Definition:
      • generally small to medium-size trees or shrubs, mostly of temperate climates, their simple leaves may be toothed or pointed and their fruit is a small samara
    • Example:
      • The bark of all birches is characteristically marked with long horizontal lenticels.
  • maple tree
    • maple tree, maple trees(noun)
    • Definition:
      • trees growing to 10–45 meters in height, most species are deciduous, but a few in southern Asia and the Mediterranean region are evergreen, distinguished by opposite leaf arrangement
    • Example:
      • Maple flowers are green, yellow, orange or red.
  • palm tree
    • palm tree, palm trees(noun)
    • Definition:
      • common name for a tree of the genus Arecaceae usually characterised by having a single stem or trunk, directly from which sprout several leaves or fronds giving a shape like an outstretched hand
    • Example:
      • Palm trees are often found on the beach.

2. Vocabulary Trainer

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