Saturday, March 25, 2023

Chile: The damage caused by the wildfires will last for many years

SANTIAGO ( Associated Press) – Wildfires affecting Chile are causing damage to soil, fruits and vegetables that in some cases will take years to recover, Santiago Rosa, director of the Agricultural Development Institute, said Tuesday.

The fire started 13 days ago and has destroyed more than 425,000 hectares in the Ñuble, Biobío and La Araucanía regions in south-central Chile, and has caused the deaths of 25 people and thousands of animals. Of the 206 active fires, 60 are still out of control.

The interior minister, Carolina Toha, said a brigade member who was crushed by a tree while fighting the fire died on Monday.

Rojas declared that vegetables could be cured in about six months, berries would take two to three years, and fruit trees and vines would take between three and five years.

Regarding animals, he specified that, according to preliminary data, about 4,600 were killed by burning, mainly poultry that produce meat and eggs, sheep, goats and cattle. About 9,000 beehives out of the total 12,500 have also been affected, he said.

The fire would also be reflected in some Chilean exports such as timber and wine.

In 2022, Chile exports 59,000 million dollars, of which 31,000 correspond to products other than copper, such as wood, and 828 million liters of wine. Of the latter, just over half are matched with a designation of origin, which identifies the country of origin or the city where they were produced.

Among the towns most affected by the flames is the emblematic Itata Valley in Nabal, some 400 kilometers south of the Chilean capital, which lost not only vineyards but also wine tourism after tourist reservations were cancelled.

The Itata Valley is one of Chile’s oldest wine-producing regions, with vines that can be traced back more than 400 years, and is characterized by its own vineyards that began to be cultivated after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. When the priests planted the first vineyards to produce the wine needed by their people.

Winemaker Leonardo Erazzo said he lost 90% of his six hectares of vineyards, some of them with vines more than 200 years old, such as Cinsault, Carignan and Moscatel wines, with which he makes artisanal and organic wines . Erazo is one of the few vintners exporting a few thousand litres, reaching around 120,000 liters in Itata.

Erazo, who, like everyone else, was getting ready to start harvest, which usually begins in the first days of March, said there would be no grapes this year or next because of how long it took for the vines to grow. It takes time, not counting damage to the floor. “Some (vines) got scorched, but others caught fire and everything got burnt,” he said.

Victor Castellón, president of the Itata Valley Winegrowers Association, said that 80% of vineyards with complications due to fire or smoke reach a total of 80%.

The government has said there will be “a specific contribution” to those affected by claims and credits from the largest companies.

According to Manuel Monsalve, Undersecretary of the Interior, 60 uncontrolled fires continue to rage. The fight against the Emergency “is in a state of greater control,” he said.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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