Spanish Version

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forest Burnings: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

 Perhaps some have read this novel written by García Márquez, which describes a murder and details of this killing. The same is happening with our beloved Amazonian forests and the worst problem is that this death may extend not only to animals and plants but all of us.

"Ipias" Hills burning - September 2011

The Amazon, before becoming a victim of human settlements, had no time of the year with burnings like now. Since man came up with the "bright idea" to transform forest lands for grazing and agriculture by burnings, this has not stopped. What is not known is that this action diminishes the rainfall and what was once a rainforest, becomes an arid and dry plain. As an example we can mention all the Chaco's Zone (south east of Bolivia, part of Paraguay and northern Argentina) that was previously rain forest and is now a semi-dessert with scarce vegetation and water problems due to old burnings, long time ago. The Spanish name "chaco" is translated as burnt land and it just shows what has been done with this site. There is also another surprise, the land after the burnings is not suitable for agriculture and is infertile. The reason is that all the wealth and productivity of the Amazon is related to its ecosystem and its living organisms, once they disappear, the soil is not suitable to produce.

Chaco's Zone - A very arid zone compared with rainforest.

The idea that the product of burning enriches the soil, is totally false and incorrect, as this ends up destroying all micro-organisms and in a very short time the land is totally unproductive. What do most of the people? They go further to burn another portion of the rainforest and thus it has no end. Not for nothing, now the Bolivian government wants to build roads through the rainforest, this just shows the greed of some people and their short vision for the future. It is important to understand that this is no longer a political (Right vs. Left), economic (rich vs. poor), racial, social or ethnic problem, it is everyone's problem. You can compare what happens with a person who smokes. We currently know that this is not good for our health, even in the pack you find a big warning, but what happens? Some keep smoking until there is a serious disease, usually incurable. When they stop smoking, it's too late, that "cancer" is very advanced and only the worst may be expected.

Everything is caught by fire.
After the fire, nothing is left.
More fire and burnings.
The fire is spread by wind.

Some people think this position is "exaggerated" and that while this does not affect them, there is no problem. In addition it is thought that only the authorities are responsible, but the magnitude of this problem has gone further and there is much in play. One consequence is the greenhouse effect.
C02 or carbon dioxide is among the gases that cause this effect. The more CO2 will be spilled in the atmosphere, the higher temperature increase that will be. This is similar to what happens inside a closed car in the sun. Soon the temperature within it increases and reaches a point where you can not stay inside. It is believed that this contamination is only done in developed countries by industries and automobiles, but this is not true. From the total of carbon added to the atmosphere between the years 2000-2008, over 15% is due to burning of forests in countries like Bolivia. Our own experience of previous years has confirmed this and it is possible that it is even worse.

A denounce is done. Let's hope the authorities find the outlaws.
Some soldiers and firemen fighting against the fire.
This year more people helped fighting the burnings, but the best way is preventing them.

According to estimates by scientists, deforestation and fires will continue to grow in the southern hemisphere until 2025, and for the year 2100, it is estimated that the average temperature will rise 3 degrees Celsius, which will destabilize the entire planet (Source: Prof. Galen A. McKinley, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Center for Climatic Research - University of Wisconsin - Madison. Project dissemination of NASA).

After the burnings the rainforest does not come back.
Destruction and contamination.

Scared animals after the burnings - September 2011.

What to do?

1) Take action. It is no time to have a passive attitude, just reading or hearing about the bad news.
2) Assess the wonders of nature that we have about its unparalleled beauty and appreciate it. Photography is a medium that allows it.
3) Pass this message to everyone. We should try to educate all. Let's start with our children and young people.
4) Do not contribute more to predation. Do not let this consumer society influence your life style, save energy, do not waste wood or paper. Take care of our environment!
5)  Do not break the law and denounce who does!
6) Finally, try to support any reforestation campaign, plant trees ... We can even start at our own home.

We want green and healthy forests. Giant ferns - Amboro Park.
With animals...
plants and...

Only if we all act as one, perhaps we can reverse the destruction and unlike in the novel above, we will able to change the end and avoid our own death.

Special thanks to Anke Arno, Steffen Reichle and the group of Bolivia Nature Photographers for the photographs provided.