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Alarm over deforestation raised by fires in the Amazon region of Colombia

Alarm over deforestation raised by fires in the Amazon region of Colombia

A view of a forest area in the middle Yari plains, Caqueta, Colombia, March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

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BOGOTA (Reuters), February 4, 2019 – Intense fires this year in Colombia’s Amazon Region point to increasing deforestation by people removing land for ranching. This alarms environmental groups and officials warn of the dangers of smoke pollution.

The burning is taking place in Colombia’s so called arc of deforestation, in Caqueta Meta, Meta, and Guaviare provinces. It creeps into national parks, and parts of Amazon rainforest. Conserving forests is vital to halting climate change.

Rodrigo Botero is the director general of Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS). He stated that the fires have intensified more than they have in many years. “That is an alarming sign.”

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Deforestation is when land is used for illegal mining and cattle ranching. Read more. In 2020, Colombia saw an increase in deforestation of 8% to 171,685 ha (424,243 acres).

According to Monday’s environment ministry memo, although no data was available on the area or the number of fires, January had the most active areas in Colombia’s Amazon biome for the past 10 years. February is Colombia’s peak season for burning.

According to Nicolas Galarza, Vice Minister of Environmental Regulation, hot spots can be fires but they could also indicate rising temperatures during the country’s dry seasons, Reuters reported.

Galarza stated, “Ofcourse, we are concerned.” “We want to verify because the increase in temperature is unusual, but, as I said, there’s no conclusive evidence that these heat spots are fires.

Guaviare’s Calamar municipality issued a red alert on Wednesday about fires, while Carolina Urrutia (Bogota’s environment secretary) warned that smoke could impact the capital’s air quality.

Amazon Conservation, an advocacy group has detected large-scale fires by using its own monitoring app.

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“What are we seeing is a large number of major fires, that means we’re watching a lot of fires which are burning biomass,” Matt Finer, Amazon Conservation senior researcher specialist and director of the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Projects (MAAP), explained to Reuters.

Botero stated, “These fires indicate that a large area of forest has already be deforested.”

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Reporting by Oliver Griffin. Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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