Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tenerife Fire Just how big a disaster?

See bigger map

UPDATE: the Ministry for the Environment have released their official figures for the areas affected, which in Tenerife, was a total of 18,800 hectares. This is greater than the 15,000 hectares originally estimated and converts to 46454.8 acres, or 188 square kilometers, 72.59 square miles or 17,398.8 football (soccer) pitches! The biggest part of the disaster is, of course, for those who have lost their homes and all they owned and, for the nature and wildlife of the island, but what I wanted to know, after hearing constant references to so many hectares, is how big is that in something I can "get my head round?"

Click to see notes

The satellite image clearly shows the area affected by the fire, which the official figures put at 15,000 hectares. So what is a hectare? This Area Converter provided by the World Land Trust allowed me to put the number into some more readily understood terms:

15,000 hectares is equivalent to:
  • 37,065 acres
  • 150 square kilometers
  • 57.9 square miles
The island of Guernsey would fit twice into the area devastated by the fire and the area of Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles and home to an estimated population of 72,000, is roughly equivalent at 155 square kilometers. The city of Kaohsiung a major industrial base in Taiwan covers 150 square kilometers and has a population of 1.4 million.

As a football (soccer) pitch is 2.67 acres, the area of the fire is equivalent to about 13,882 football pitches or space for 7,413,000 parked cars. For the Colonial viewers, it's about 28,079 American football fields. And based on the World Land Trust' ratio of 150 trees per acre, this disaster in Tenerife could, potentially, have wiped out, 5,559,750 trees.