Solidarity amidst Chile’s forest fires

Chile’s Ñuble, Bío Bío and La Araucanía regions are facing a severe crisis due to the large-scale forest fires in February that caused damage to close to half a million hectares of plantations and native forests in the said areas, according to BWI’s Chilean affiliates FETRAMAS of MASISA and FENASID of ARAUCO. 

Citing reports from the National Forestry Corporation of Chile (CONAF), the unions reported that 26 people have been killed, 2,423 homes were destroyed, and 440,976 hectares of forests, crops and pastures were ravaged by the fires. In February alone, a total of 240 forest fires have been reported by the National Service for Disaster Prevention and Attention. 

The Chilean government declared a state of catastrophe in the affect areas where thousands were displaced. In a show of solidarity, workers employed in the country’s wood processing plants helped in combating the forest fires together with around 800 international rescuers from Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal and Ecuador. For their part, trade unions demanded from the government stronger policies and better plans to prevent future forest fires and realise a sustainable forestry industry.