La Paz, Sep 17 (IANS) Bolivia’s Interim President Jeanine Anez has declared a national emergency after forest fires scorched more than half a million hectares in the region of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
“Today, something very important and significant is happening: we are presenting two decrees. One to reinforce the fight against fire, and another to repeal the decree that allowed controlled burning,” Anez said on Wednesday in the town of San Ignacio de Velasco in Santa Cruz.
Anez also instructed the Ministry of Defence to transfer its civil defence team so that it could work with the Ministry of the Environment and local governments to address the crisis, reports Xinhua news agency.
Minister of the Presidency of the Interim-Government Yerko Nunez reiterated that the Forest and Land Authority has been instructed to put out the fires in vulnerable areas.
According to the Forest and Land Authority, 598,716 hectares of area were affected by fires in the first week of September.
Scientists at the College of Biologists in La Paz estimate that regeneration of the country’s local ecosystem will take about 300 years.
High temperatures and strong winds also stoked the flames that began in May and intensified in August, the BBC reported.