So far this year, the number of hectares burned in all of 2021 has already doubled

So far this year, the number of hectares burned in all of 2021 has already doubled

According to the National Fire Management Service, in just 40 days, 681,425 hectares were burned, while in all of 2021, 331,000 had been burned.

For iProfessional

02/12/2022 – 9:47 p.m.

In the scarce 40 days that 2022 has been, and taking into account only the fires that affect the province of Corrientes, Argentina has already doubled the number of hectares devastated by the flames that had been registered in all of 2021.

The alarming data does nothing but highlight again the dimension of the damage caused by climate changewith the prolonged droughts and the irresponsible hand of man, who is usually the main responsible for the igneous foci that constantly devour huge portions of native forests and grasslands that play a fundamental role for biodiversity.

According to information compiled by the National Fire Management Service, as of January 27, a total of 162,425 hectares were recorded as devastated by the flames. However, due to the cut-off date of the registry of the amount of area lost to the fire, the ecological and economic disaster of Corrientes is not included, where large portions of pastures, palm groves and mountains, as well as rice fields, were lost. The images of the environmental damage caused by the fires in Corrientes could be seen even from space.

Increasingly frequent droughts are an indication of the effects of climate change

According to estimates -partial, since the flames have not yet been put out- made by experts from the Corrientes station of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), the coastal province lost 519 thousand hectares due to the fires, that is, almost 4% of its territory: 58% of the affected areas are wetlands such as estuaries, marshes, weeds and alluvial valley vegetation; 35% were grasslands; and the rest, 7%, forests, both native and cultivated.

Once the SNMF statistics are updated with the information provided by the Government of Corrientes, and if the INTA data is corroborated, the number will be shocking: in just 40 days 681,425 hectares will have been burned, while in all of 2021, according to the agency that is in the orbit of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, 331,000 hectares had been burned. In other words, in less than two months, there will have been a 105% increase in the amount of burned space compared to the entire previous year, which was the period with the lowest loss due to forest fires in the last five years.

The SNMF report indicates that the province most affected by the fires -without the data from Corrientes- was Chubut, with 80,165 hectares converted to ash; followed by La Pampa, with 32,684; San Luis, with 26,701; Jump, with 7,085; and Río Negro, with 6,445.

climate crisis

The increasingly frequent droughts are an indication of the effects of climate change, so that human actions, with or without the intention of generating a fire, end up forming a lethal combo for ecosystems.

So far, fourteen provinces have declared a water emergency in their territories: Buenos Aires, Chaco, Chubut, Catamarca, Entre Ríos, Neuquén, Río Negro, Santa Cruz, San Juan, Santa Fe, La Rioja, Misiones, Tucumán and some municipalities of Cordova. Meanwhile, seven declared an igneous emergency: Chaco, Chubut, Neuquén, Río Negro, Santa Fe, Misiones and Catamarca. For his part, Corrientes established the igneous and agricultural emergence.

Forest fires can be generated by natural causes

The provinces of Northeast Argentina (NEA) and the riverside areas of the Paraná River are the most affected by forest fires so far this year. Satellite surveys show a region that is burning alarmingly: an image from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) shows the fires that were recorded last January.

Forest fires can be generated by natural causes, the most common being lightning strikes during electrical storms; or anthropic, that is, human activity, such as intentional fires or poorly extinguished stoves: 95% of fires have the hand of man behind them.

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