A million hectares ablaze as forest fires sweep through Bolivia

A million hectares ablaze as forest fires sweep through Bolivia

Forest fires in Bolivia have burned 1.4 million hectares (3.4 million acres) across the country this year, according to the government. And as in 2019, the Chiquitania and Chaco ecosystems are the hardest-hit areas. There were 57 active wildfires as of Oct. 8, according to María Elva Pinckert, the country’s environment minister at the time. (A new government has been sworn in following an election on Oct. 18). Forty-three of the fires were in Santa Cruz department, 11 in Chuquisaca, and three in El Beni. Pinckert also said the Forest and Land Inspection and Social Control Authority (ABT) had initiated 452 administrative cases against individuals accused of causing fires. Of these, 20 are criminal complaints. “There are currently five people arrested and two sentenced,” Pinckert said. “Never before in Bolivia’s history have people been sentenced for fires.” An estimated 1.4 million hectares (3.4 million acres) have been burned in Bolivia during this year’s fire season. Image courtesy of Fundación Noel Kempff Mercado. In August, the ABT suspended issuing permits for controlled fires in Santa Cruz and El Beni. On Oct. 5, it extended the suspension to the entire country. Violations are punishable with jail time. The crisis has forced two departmental governments to declare a disaster: Santa Cruz did so on Oct. 2, and Chuquisaca followed the next day. The autonomous Indigenous territory of Charagua is evaluating whether to do the same. In Santa Cruz alone, it’s estimated that more than 830,000 hectares (2.1 million acres) have been lost to…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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