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Climate change and fire: endangered Bolivian forests

According to officials, wildfires were primarily due to land reclamation activities, burning approximately 600,000 hectares of land in eastern Bolivia between January and August 2021.

The road through San Matthias in Bolivia is a no-man’s land. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest, once lush, are now a wasteland of twisted, carbonized tree stumps.


Although a protected area, San Matthias, with its self-sufficient farmers, ranches and quartz mines, burns every year as the land is cleared for the next planting season.

During May and June after the rainy season, this practice is legal and each farmer is allowed to burn 20 hectares. This is also a reserve in the eastern part of Santa Cruz in Bolivia near the border with Brazil.

In many cases, the limit is intentionally exceeded and the fine is negligible. And more and more, the fire is only life-threatening, fueled by drier, hotter conditions than ever before.

“I’m from that bush … over there!” Antonio Takchaba, 76, pointed to the location of the recent flame within 1 km (0.6 miles) of the straw house in September.

Former farmer who currently has a few chickens and other chickens Small animals For domestic consumption, Tacuchava is one of 130 families in Comunidad Candelaria, a settlement at the gate of San Matías Park.

Locals raise cattle and grow corn, cassava, bananas and sugar cane in small plots.

“Like a match”

Like a handful of large commercial ranches in the park, self-sufficient farmers participate in annual burning at the beginning of the dry season, before it gets hot, dry and dangerous.

In Bolivia, one of the most biodiversity countries in the world, climate change and fire threaten the survival of many species.

In Bolivia, one of the most biodiversity countries in the world, climate change and fire threaten the survival of many species.

“The sparks here near these houses are like matches,” said Tacuchava, with his neat white mustache and tanned face.

However, despite their precautions, several uncontrollable fires raged around the settlements from July to September this year.

According to officials, wildfires were primarily due to land reclamation activities, burning 2.6 million hectares of land in Santa Claus in the first decade of the year.

The Bolivian NGO Friends of Nature Foundation estimates: Forest fire In 2020, it destroyed more than 2.3 million hectares of forests and grasslands in the country, and in 2019 it destroyed 6.4 million hectares.

According to NGO Global Forest Watch, Bolivia became the third largest country to lose virginity in 2020. Woods It passed Indonesia for the first time after Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is a virtuous cycle in which climate change promotes forest fires and vice versa.

Fauna and flora are at risk

Forest fires release large amounts of carbon dioxide, which warms the earth, into the atmosphere.

According to the Green Group WWF, “more to reduce carbon emissions from forest fires to get the chance to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement (on climate change control). You need to do that. “

Forest fires release large amounts of carbon dioxide, which warms the earth, into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to Bo's 192 million metric tons.

According to the Global Forest Watch, forest fires release large amounts of global warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to 192 million metric tons in Bolivia in 2020.

As the temperature rises in step with greenhouse gas emissions, green vegetation decreases and Water resources Increases the possibility of fire.

Already, according to WWF, fires in many parts of the world are bigger, more intense and lasting longer than before.

In 2009, the Bolivian Ministry of the Environment estimated at a loss rate that all forests in the country would be gone by 2100.

Environmentalists condemn the law enacted under former leftist president Evo Morales, who has long encouraged the incineration of forests and meadows to increase agricultural production.

Santa Cruz is the most affected division of Bolivia.

At 30,000 square kilometers (11,600 square miles), the size of Belgium, the dirt roads are cracked and dry, lined with thousands of half-burnt trees that squeak as they are slowly consumed from the inside. ..

“Recovery from a fire can take decades,” Bolivian biologist Juan Carlos Catari told AFP.

“There are places where we have lost more than half of the flora.”

Hyacinth macaws are described as

The Hyacinth macaw is listed as a “vulnerable species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only about 4,300 specimens remaining.

‘No water’

In Santo Corazon, another settlement in San Matthias, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of the Communidade Candelaria, residents say longer and more frequent droughts make life difficult.

A 36-year-old housewife, Darcy Cabrera, opened the faucet at home, but nothing came out.

“There is no water during a drought,” she told AFP.

According to the village chief, Jorge Suarez, 54, “there was no spring this year.” The rain, which usually marks the arrival of spring, came only a few months later.

“It’s worse for the animals that live in the forest,” he said. “This is very worrisome to me.”

According to Katari, “Most large animals move so fast that they can escape a fire, but reptiles such as lizards and snakes. fire It doesn’t move fast, so I get drunk with smoke. “

In Bolivia, one of the most biodiversity countries in the world, climate change and fire threaten the survival of many species.

One of them is the Hyacinth macaw, which has been described as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the rest are about 4,300 individuals.

There are about 300 people in San Matthias, and despite the fires around them, they are trying to hatch their eggs this year.

According to veterinarian Felix Rivas, fire ash accumulates in waters, choking fish and crustaceans and serving as food for other species, including many lizards in the park.


Bolivian forest fires consume vast areas: official


© 2021 AFP

Quote: Climate change and fire: The endangered Bolivian forest (November 10, 2021) is available from https: //phys.org/news/2021-11-climate-bolivia-forests-peril.html 2021 Obtained on November 10, 2014.

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Climate change and fire: endangered Bolivian forests

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