This year's fires in Bolivia are the largest in five years

Forest fires recorded in Bolivia from January to September 2019 exceed the burning trend of the last five years and are close to exceeding the largest burning recorded in the country in 2010, according to data from the NGO Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN) .

"At this moment we see that we are already talking about high figures, compared to the average of the last five years, it is a large event," FAN executive director Natalia Calderón told Efe on Monday.

According to a report by that NGO, from January to September 25 of this year more than 5.3 million hectares were burned throughout the country, of which 73 percent is concentrated in the eastern region of Santa Cruz , where fires persist in Chiquitania for almost two months.

Over the last year, about two million hectares were burned, while in 2017 the figure reached 2.7 million, in 2016 it reached 3.8 million and in 2015 it was 2.5 million hectares affected by the fire nationwide, according to Calderón.

"So far it is the biggest fire of the last five years, but it must be taken into account that every five years or so fires record events of great magnitude," said the director.

Calderón said there are two fires that marked "historical landmarks" in the country, which were raised in 2004 when about 6 million hectares were burned and in 2010 when approximately 10 million hectares were burned.

The director said this year's fires could exceed the figures recorded in 2010 "until the end of the season."

He also pointed out that the fires in 2010 affected at least 2.6 million hectares of forest alone and that 2 million hectares of forest were already burned in the present management.

"We are very close to the worst event for forests in recent years in the country," Calderón warned.

According to the report, until September of this year, the greatest number of fires happened in Santa Cruz, where 3.9 million hectares have already burned, followed by the Amazon department of Beni with more than 1.2 million hectares burned.

The most affected municipalities are San Matías, San Ignacio de Velasco, Charagua and Concepción.

Santa Cruz still fights the fire in Chiquitania, which according to official data has razed at least 1.8 million hectares of forests and pastures, although conservation organizations speak of more than three million hectares affected.

The FAN report also states that 29 percent of the area burned this year corresponds to "areas that have been burned for the first time with respect to the period 2001-2018".

In addition, nine protected areas of national importance have also been affected this year by fires and another 19 of subnational protection.

"This year there was also greater involvement in protected areas than previous efforts," Calderón added.

In the same way, forest fires were reported in five Ramsar sites in Bolivia, wetlands of international importance, such as the Bolivian Pantanal, Concepción Lagoon and Río Blanco.

The FAN is an NGO that works in the conservation of the environment and biodiversity of the country with more than 25 years of experience.

The quantification made by this organization is based on satellite "MODIS" images, with a spatial resolution of 500 meters.

. (tagsToTranslate) fires (t) Bolivia (t) greater (t) magnitude (t) five

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