How did the fires start?
The events that led to these fires are many and complex. Government policies have created perverse incentives for uncontrolled agricultural slash and burn practices; chaqueo.
In July 2019 the Supreme Decree 3973 legalised burning forest areas. The decree along with Law 741, which allows up to 20 hectares of land to be burnt at a time, have created perfect conditions for out of control chaqueo.
Climate change has brought a drier than usual winter season with very high temperatures and strong winds.
Ultimately, the main responsibility lies with the Bolivian Government. Their late and ineffective response to the disaster has caused it to escalate exponentially. Unfortunately, there is a political agendas behind their lack of appropriate response and behind the laws and decrees that led to the increased use of chaqueo.
It is very important to stress the incredible bravery and dedication of the firefighters on the ground. They have demonstrated exemplary courage in action and done their absolute best in the conditions they have faced with the facilities and provisions provided.
Firefighters take a moments rest between battling fires near Concepcion.
It’s nesting season and when the trees caught light the parrots died in their nests. My companions and I would cry, we felt so powerless. It’s the worst tragedy we’ve ever seen here.
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