State of emergency as Bolivian rainforest burns

President Evo Morales declared a state of emergency Aug. 19 in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz department, one of four in the nation where wildfires are consuming the eastern rainforests. Firefighters are reportedly battling some 25,000 separate blazes across the country. The fires have burned more than 3.7 million acres (1.5 million hectares) in the past weeks and are advancing “dangerously” in the departments of Pando, Beni and La Paz. Some 20 airport ahve been closed due to lack of visibility. The fires were set by peasants clearing land in the forests, but have spread by high winds and arid conditions following a drought. The Environment and Water Ministry asked the farmers and herders to stop the annual practice of burning undergrowth. (AlJazeera, CNN, Aug. 20)

See our last posts on Bolivia and the struggle for the Amazon.

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