South America ravaged by unprecedented drought and fires

MONTEVIDEO (AFP) – Under stress from a historic drought, large swathes of forest and wetlands in central South America known for their exceptional biodiversity have been ravaged by devastating fires.

Experts said the wildfires in a region that spans Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay – especially the area between the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay rivers – have become critical in 2020.

“There has been a dramatic increase in fires. In Argentina there has been an increase of around 170 per cent, it’s very serious,” said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental politics researcher at Argentina’s San Martin National University (UNSM).

She said it’s part of a wider problem affecting multiple regions around the world this year, including in Brazil’s Amazonas state, Australia, California, and the Gran Chaco, South America’s second largest forest after the Amazon.

A dead alligator lies beside the Transpantaneira park road in the Pantanal wetlands in Mato Grosso State, Brazil. Exacerbated by a historic drought, large swathes of forest and wetlands in central South America have been ravaged by devastating fires. PHOTO: AFP