Forest fires in Chile increased by 98%

Forest fires in Chile increased by 98%

07 January 2014

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Chile — Forest fires in Chile have increased by 98% so far this season, compared to the same period of the previous season, as stated by the Chilean Wood Corporation (CORMA). This entity made an urgent call to the community to report intentionally set fires and increase prevention measures for fires produced by negligence, which generate immeasurable loss for the country in terms of human lives, as well as environmental and economic damage, as Arauco said in the press release received by Lesprom Network.

According to statistics, there have been 1,102 fires between regions Maule and Los Lagos (the so called macro-forestry zone) so far in the 2013-2014 season, compared to 512 fires at the same time period of last season. About 5,521 hectares have been affected, against 329 hectares at the same time period last season, which means the damage this year is seventeen times greater.

The Bío Bío Region concentrates the largest number of fires, with 694, which accounts for 68.58% of fires in the macro-forestry zone. At the same date last year, 370 fires had occurred (which means 87% more this season). To date, 5,214 hectares have been affected, which is substantially greater than last season’s 238 hectares during the same time period.

Fernando Raga, president of CORMA, stated, “The sector’s businesses spend about $35 per hectare of forest on fire prevention and suppression. As a country, we should aim towards zero forest fires and invest more on prevention instead of spending so many resources on fire suppression”. He added that, “for now, the most important thing is to create awareness regarding fire prevention, identify the perpetrators and report them. Natural fires do not occur in Chile, there is always a human cause: negligence, carelessness or arson, which results in irreparable loss for the country”.

The executive informed that all forestry sector workers have been suppressing fires incessantly, alongside a large number of firefighters. In addition, he reiterated a call for authorities to prosecute people responsible for intentionally setting fires to the fullest extent of the law.

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