South America is ravaged by unprecedented drought and wildfires. Thousands of species died

Territories most affected

Experts say wildfires in the region

covers Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay (especially in the region between the rivers Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay) reached a critical point in 2020.

“There has been a sharp increase in the number of fires. In Argentina, growth was about 170%, which is very serious, ”said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental policy researcher at the National University of San Martin in Argentina (UNSM). It is part of a broader problem affecting several regions of the world this year, including the Brazilian state of Amazonas, Australia, California and Gran Chaco, the second largest forest in South America after the Amazon, she said.

Pantanal is a vast swampy tectonicdepression in Brazil, small parts of it are also located in Bolivia and Paraguay, in the Paraguay River basin. Located in the west of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul and in the south of the state of Mato Grosso. Pantanal. They are the largest wetlands in the world and are experiencing the worst drought in 47 years.

The Parana River is one of the most powerful on the planet,originates in Brazil and flows into the mouth of the Plate River - at its lowest level since 1970. In August, in Rosario, in eastern Argentina, the water level dropped to 80 centimeters, instead of the usual 3-4 meters for that time of year.

The same is true for the Paraguay River, which is at its lowest level in "half a century," according to Paraguay's National Meteorological Center in Asuncion.

Affected species

The fires are fanned by ideal conditions, including strong winds, temperatures in excess of 40 ° C, and a dry season when farmers use slash and burn farming methods to try to restore the soil.

In Paraguay, “fires at the end of September and in the firstthe week of October broke all records, ”said Eduardo Mingo, a senior official at the National Meteorological Center. The number of fires in 2020 increased by 46 percent overall, authorities said.

The capital of Paraguay Asuncion and several cities onnortheastern Argentina and southern Brazil spent days and even weeks in dense fog due to massive fires. And without the usual rainfall to moisten the soil, the wetlands were particularly affected.

Delta Parana, home to species such as the jaguar,a pampas cat and a few rodents have been subject to unprecedented fires since January, leaving behind an ash desert in tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands.

“Reptiles, migratory birds, small mammalsand the turtles died, ”said Cesar Massy, ​​a naturalist in the Argentine province of Santa Fe. “I remember there were fires during the last drought in 2008. But this year they were stronger, more intense and lasted longer. "

Impact on a person

Agriculture is a huge source of income for the countries of the region, but slash and burn methods only make matters worse.

In northern Argentina, according to Greenpeace, "despite the COVID-19 restrictions, from March 15 to September 30, the area of ​​Buenos Aires was cut twice as much as in the same period."

Community organization Mighty Earth states,that the dry forests of Paraguay are "one of the main deforestation sites in the world, mainly due to the expansion of grazing and recent soybean plantations." Note that the Argentine government accused livestock breeders of arson to "increase the area of ​​pastures" in the Parana delta.

The problem is not being solved

One problem is thatThe NGO does not have the necessary funding from the government to enforce regulations and initiate major wildlife recovery or protection projects during a crisis.

“The provincial government has less and lessfunds for prevention, no monitoring posts, virtually no environmental police, ”said Alfredo Leites, member of the environmental team Ambiente en Lucha from Cordoba, Argentina.

In Brazil, “the number of contracts withvolunteers "dropped by 58%," said Alika Tuo of the Centro de Vida, referring to the people who were mobilized to put out the fires. She firmly places the blame on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a notorious climate change skeptic.

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