Residents in the Corrientes province of Argentina are hopeful that light rains over the weekend that are predicted to continue for a few days will slow the numerous wildfires that have been burning in the area for months.
Drought, low humidities, and a record-setting heatwave have created conditions in the northeast part of the country that has made it difficult to suppress the widespread fires, some of which started in December. Officials estimate that more than 1.5 million acres have burned, including areas near Iberá National Park.
On February 7, 2022, the governor of Corrientes declared a state of emergency and an agricultural disaster, retroactive to January 1. The same day, the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) estimated that the fires had affected roughly 6 percent of the province, which lies between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers near the border with Paraguay.
The growth of some of the fires can be linked to a non-native species, northern pine planted in the 1970s on abandoned areas formerly used for grazing after the old-growth forests had been logged. The government subsidized the conversion to the fast-growing pines to benefit the timber industry.
One species planted was radiata pine which is more flammable than the native trees. It has serotinous cones which open and disperse seeds after they are exposed to heat from fires. The resulting seedlings out-compete the native species so the diversity of the forest decreases and becomes more susceptible to fires. Rinse-repeat.
The video below from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was published February 21, 2022.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.