Increase in forest fires in Mexico

26/04/2020

The number of new forest fires has risen to 77 in several areas of Mexico, but they do not represent a danger to the population, officials said.

In 2019, forest fires affected 12,121.44 hectares in Quintana Roo, derived from 48 incidents, double what was had in 2018, which was 6,388.66 hectares. Image: NASA
In 2019, forest fires affected 12,121.44 hectares in Quintana Roo, derived from 48 incidents, double what was had in 2018, which was 6,388.66 hectares. Image: NASA

The forest fires affect 18 of the country's states, covering 8,391.36 hectares, while nine have been extinguished, in other words, 1,988 combatants are working.

According to Saturday's report by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the National Forestry Commission (Conafor), the conflagrations affect seven Natural Protected Areas.

The teams are continuing their work in the Natural Resources Protection Area CADNR 026 Bajo Río San Juan, municipality of Galeana, in the National Park-Cumbres de Monterrey, municipality of Santiago, and in the Sierra de las Mitras State Nature Reserve, municipality of Santa Catarina, in Nuevo León.

The fires affect the Chichinautzin Biological Corridor, municipality of Cuernavaca, in Morelos; the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, municipality of Landa de Matamoros, in Querétaro; as well as the Sumidero Canyon National Park, municipality of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and the El Ocote Biosphere Reserve, municipality of Cintalapa, in Chiapas.

So far the vegetation affected is mostly grasses and shrubs, so they reiterated the population not to make use of fire in the forest areas.

Greater risk of forest fires in Mexico predicted for 2020

The National Water Commission (Conagua) reported abnormally dry conditions for the Yucatan Peninsula, mainly Quintana Roo and Yucatan, which increase the risk of forest fires by 2020.

According to Mexico's Drought Monitor of last month, the conditions of greatest concern are in the municipalities of central and southern Quintana Roo: Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Jose Maria Morelos, Bacalar, and Othon P. Blanco.

Cristóbal Uc Medina, general director of the Coordination of Peasant Forestry Organizations of Quintana Roo, said that this puts at risk four million 455 thousand hectares of forest in the state, of which three million 773 are considered as forest area.

He said that after last year there were up to nine months of severe drought in some municipalities, and taking into account that this year there has not been much rainfall, weather conditions could favor a drought, which with the arrival of dry north, would lead to a new season of forest fires.

"The cold dries up the vegetation and it becomes the ideal fuel for forest fires," he warned.

In 2019, forest fires affected 12,121.44 hectares in Quintana Roo, derived from 48 incidents, double what was had in 2018, which was 6,388.66 hectares.

"In Quintana Roo there are 28 decreed natural protected areas, of which 18 are sites of interest to the Federation, and 10, with interference from the state government; however, all are at risk," he insisted.

For the interviewee, the issue is aggravated because the slash-and-burn method continues to be used, whether for agriculture or for livestock. However, the most complicated aspect is that the National Forestry Commission (Conafor) has been disbanded, and it is not known how they will fight the incidents this year.