Fires.  Bolivia lacks regulations and an effective prevention plan

The difficulties in containing forest fires in the country show the prevailing prevention deficit in Bolivia in order to work efficiently in times of burns and chaos. This activity is regulated by a standard drawn up in 2019, but according to experts in the field it does not fulfill the role for which it was designed.

Gonzalo Colque, director of the Fundación Tierra, reiterated that the problem that has dragged Bolivia on since then is related to the plan, which has no public budget, particularly in Chiquitanía. For this reason, fires are still being fought four to five years ago, due to a lack of innovative devices for this task.

“Improvisation, lack of equipment and public budget are the factors preventing the fires that start at this time of year from being alleviated,” he said.

Colque said the government must stop issuing permits for burns and jackets in high risk seasons. From 2019, the state will be the supervisory and control authority

Social for Forest and Land (ABT), issued in the country licenses for the burning of more than 300 thousand hectares per year; it placed more emphasis on the departments of Santa Cruz and Beni.

“It’s a significant amount of permits. So the government needs to be more rational in this regard, ”he said.

The director of the Fundación Tierra reiterated that a public budget is essential to prevent fires. He said that to this day he did not know that there were resources to counter these natural disasters.

Colque warned that many organizations are calling for a change in regulations, particularly to protect the Chiquitanía from fires. To do this, they systematize the issuing of permits for burns and chaqueos.

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“It is necessary to review the rule that allows free chaqueo of up to 20 hectares for small farming communities, plans and management of the restoration of flora and fauna in the affected areas are required. Specific projects are also needed to provide clean water to indigenous communities, ”he added.

He said the water supply is very important as many Chiquitan communities are suffering the consequences of the ashes contaminating this resource.

For his part, Alcides Vadillo, director of the Tierra Regional Oriente Foundation, pointed out that this organization has been asking the government since 2019 to draw up a regulation that prevents burns and optimizes control of the clearings.

“It’s not that people aren’t cultivating, it’s that they are doing it in the deforested areas. We are not against grain, we demand that this work be done in deforested areas; let’s stop deforestation, ”he commented.

In addition, he said what happened at Viru Viru Airport in Santa Cruz is irrefutable evidence of the inefficiency in controlling the fires in Bolivia.

“Here, at the gates of the city of Santa Cruz, a fire of almost 5,000 hectares has started from the burning of rubbish in a lot, which affects the airport and burning turbines. It took you four days to soften the fire, imagine if this happens in a forest, ”he said.

Like Colque, Vadillo assured that Bolivia did not have enough infrastructure or technical personnel to deal with the fires.

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“So we insist that we have to avoid creating the fire, but that we control the burning, the clearing, because once it starts to burn, it is very difficult to control. I repeat, we have no technical means, less logistics, to do this efficiently, ”he added.

Likewise, Vadillo said it was imperative to stop regulations allowing up to 20 hectares to be cleared, as this exceeded departmental land use plans and was above land management methods.

“If someone has a land permit, they have to clear up to 20 hectares per year. If they add up 20 hectares and the same number of people, that is nothing, but when we speak of thousands, it is a matter of multiplication; So we’re talking about clearing half a million hectares per year. This permit of up to 20 hectares must be changed, ”he emphasized.

ABT SUSPENSES BRENNER permits

A decision of the Authority for the Supervision and Social Control of Forests and Land (ABT) stipulates that the authorization and execution of burns approved by this body throughout the national territory will be temporarily suspended, as they are considered to be endangered and endangered areas for burns and burns.

The above resolution is in effect until the atmospheric conditions of rain, moisture and wind change.

The ABT warned that any violation would result in administrative sanctions and, if justified, criminal proceedings would be initiated for damage to the environment and nature reserves.

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