In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, the head of the Conafor Forestry Development Promoter explains that when a fire breaks out, the fire cannot be safely fought, since the integrity of the brigade members is at risk.
Juxtlahuaca.— In Oaxaca, there are 29 areas of conflict between communities where disputes over land and boundaries prevent combat work when fires devour state forests, according to data from the National Forestry Commission (Conafor).
According to Óscar Mejía Gómez, head of the Conafor Forestry Development Promotion Office, although these conflict zones are located in different regions, most are concentrated in the Mixteca, where access is impossible due to agrarian and social conflicts.
In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, the official explains that in these 29 polygons, when a forest fire breaks out, the fire cannot be safely fought, since the integrity of the brigade members is at risk.
“When the fires get out of control, agreements are signed between the municipalities in conflict, the agrarian, community authorities, the corresponding instances of the state government and agencies such as Conafor or the State Forestry Commission [ Coesfo ]; however, it is not a guarantee for the brigadistas. Sometimes those agreements are not respected and then they put us at risk,” explains Mejía.
Among some of the most notable conflicts that persist in the Mixteca are that of Yosoñama with San Juan Mixtepec; Monte Verde with Santa Catarina Yosonotu, Yosoyuxi, Tierra Blanca, Nopalera-Zimatlán, among others.
In the Sierra Sur, the conflict in Sola de Vega stands out; in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec disputes continue in Los Chimalapas and Santa María Jalapa del Marqués, among others.
Francisco García López, head of the General Secretariat of Government ( Segego ), reported last December that to date there are 60 land conflicts in Oaxaca.
Although the fire season began to decline in state territory, it is expected that the following ones will be more aggressive for the forests, due to climate change, which has caused a drought that facilitated the spread of the fire, says Mejía Gómez.
“Climate change has been leaving us in recent years with greater droughts in the forest areas in the territory of Oaxaca, where the humidity is lower, the temperature is high and the winds are more intense, which means that the fires are more explosives,” he says.
In 2021, the region most affected by forest fires was the Mixteca, followed by the Sierra Sur and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; while the one with the least impact is the Papaloapan Basin.
Oaxaca registered 151 forest fires in 2021, which added a total of 31,749 affected hectares, according to Conafor statistics.
This places the entity among the states with the largest area affected by fire, along with Chihuahua, Guerrero, Jalisco, Durango, Chiapas, Nayarit, Michoacán, Nuevo León, and Sonora, which accounted for 80% of the burns in 2021.
The figure of 150 fires in 2021 indicates that there were 60 less than in 2020 when 208 were registered; however, in the year that ended, there was a greater number of hectares affected by fire, which devoured an area of 31,749 hectares.
According to the Conafor report, Oaxaca is the entity with the largest area affected so far in 2022, according to the registry from January 1 to February 3, since it totals more than 248 affected hectares. Chiapas follows, with 82.85; Chihuahua, with more than 35; Durango, with 22; San Luis Potosí, with 20 and Puebla, with more than 19. The states with the fewest affected areas are Morelos and Mexico City.
Coesfo reports 10 fires this year in the entity, of which eight have been forest fires and the rest grassland, reports José Guadalupe Hernández, head of the department of forest protection and incidence. The region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is where the highest number of fires, followed by the Mixteca and the Sierra Sur.
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