'Red alert' for forest fires in Bolivia's largest region
Located in the department of Santa Cruz, the authorities asked the municipalities to activate an "immediate response" to prevent their spread.
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Jhonny Rojas, Bolivia's Secretary of Sustainable Development and Environment, said that "80% of the department of Santa Cruz is at high risk due to forest fires."
"We declared the red alert due to the critical period of increase of emergencies," and because the department is "facing an exponential increase of the emergency due to forest fires," he told local media.
They explain that some of the reasons for the growing crisis are the "deficit of rainfall and water stress," "drought," along with "non-compliance with the pause of authorized burns" in agriculture, conditions that cause "extreme risks," added Rojas.
Controlled burns are a method used for deforestation, as well as the clearing of a portion of land to enable it to be used for agricultural purposes. These are carried out during the dry season.
The Government of Santa Cruz asked the Authority of Control and Social Control of Forests and Land (ABT), that it depends on the national government to "enforce the pause of the authorized burnings."
The regional government instructed the jurisdictions under its command to activate the necessary authorities to attend to the emergency to contain the fires and avoid disasters of great magnitude.
In a recent report, the Governor's Office of Santa Cruz reported a total of 77 new fire outbreaks in addition to the 1,531 that have been identified in August. More than 15,700 have sparked in total throughout the season.
The largest number of fires occurred in the towns of San Ignacio de Velasco, Pailón, San José, Concepción and San Miguel, which are located in the Chiquitania region, a sector close to the Amazon and vulnerable to disasters.
In 2019, more fires were recorded, according to data from the Monitoring and Early Warning System of Forest Fire Risks (Satrifo), affecting 5.7 million hectares nationwide.