Fire Earth

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‘Red Alert’ in Chile as Wildfires Destroy 1,000-Year-Old Trees

Posted by feww on March 25, 2015

Drought, High Winds Fan Destructive Chilean Forest Fires

Abnormally hot weather and high winds in southern Chile are fueling out-of-control wildfires that have been consuming large national forests and reserves parched by a lingering drought.

The fires have destroyed more than 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) in three protected areas: Conguillio National Park, China Muerta National Reserve and Nalca Lolco National Reserve.

[Conguillio National Park, known for its forests of thousand-year-old Araucarias [Chilean pine, or monkey puzzle trees,] was declared a national park in 1950. In 1983, the park, together with Alto Bío Bío National Reserve, was designated as a Biosphere Reserve, known as Araucarias Biosphere Reserve, by UNESCO.]

“Faced with this critical situation, there is no choice but to assume that the lack of water resources is a reality that is here to stay and that puts at risk the development of important regions of our country” said Chilean President Bachelet, blaming the fires on the country’s prolonged drought.

Forest fires have charred more than 91,327 hectares (225,670 acres) so far this season, some 59,300 hectares (65%) above the annual average over previous five years, said the country’s national forestry agency CONAF.

Authorities have declared a ‘red alert’ nationwide.

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