Published in El Pais, August 31st 2019.
The world has been suffering with the news of the uncontrolled burning of the Amazon in which more than 750000 hectares have been lost without mentioning the species of animals burned or are homeless. It is time to reflect on some aspects.
- Authorized burning. The world and particularly Bolivia repudiate the new Supreme Decree 3973 that authorizes burning in the forests to increase urban areas and agricultural expansion. Bolivia, among other countries, signed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that indicates the preservation of the environment to avoid environmental disasters which could lead to forced migration due to lack of water, desertification or others that could result in extreme poverty. The world has committed to more responsible consumption, in addition to reforesting forests. This Decree goes against this commitment, nature, the countries that gave money for this purpose, the Political Constitution of Bolivia and the people.
- Urban and agricultural expansion. According to the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation (FES), the rate of deforestation per capita is 34 times higher than the world average, with 310 m2 per person per year (the world average is 9 m2). Many newspapers of national circulation have been denouncing this immense deforestation since 2014, particularly in the city of Santa Cruz due to colonizers, large project developers and the expansion of large-scale farming (provided that Bolivia can export soy, sugar, meat, coca).The government has continued to accept this expansion without serious control. Moreover, it has motivated the colonizers to settle in different places of ecological reserve and at the same time justify the exploration of oil / gas, mines, exports and coca production. But also, many Bolivians have bought houses in these new developments (Santa Cruz, Cochabamba) knowing that they have been built in places where there were reserves of trees, animals and water. With what moral can we talk about environmental disaster if we are part of the origin of the problem together with the Government?
- Health Recently we have experienced the disaster of families that have seen their loved ones die from the arenavirus (caused by rodents) knowing that it is due to the destruction of the habitat of the snakes that control the population. And there are the statistics of people dying from depression that perhaps could be avoided if there were forests nearby to walk among them? People who die from pollution (cars or burns), diseases such as dengue, Zika and others who have no cure?
Neighboring countries have deforested an average percentage of their territory in the last 10 years : Paraguay 19%, Argentina 10%, Bolivia and Ecuador 7%, Colombia and Peru 2% in relation to their total territory. The only countries that have increased the forest surface are Uruguay 14% and Chile 11% in relation to their territory. How long do we think we can survive without nature?