A year after the firestorms that devastated vast areas between the Maule and Araucanía regions, we are once again witnessing the drama of thousands of families losing everything, people perishing in the flames and entire ecosystems being destroyed by fires.
Increasingly frequent firestorms or extreme forest fires have devastated more than a million hectares of rural and urban Chilean territory. The available evidence and the experiences of the affected communities indicate that these fires in Chile are not accidental, but a product of the forestry model that has prevailed since the disastrous Decree 701, which is also favored by the increase in the area of forest monoculture, climate change. Negligence and complicity of the state and criminal conduct of individuals and business interests.
A year ago, a wave of social solidarity was mobilized in support of the victims of the fires in Chile, and throughout the year organizations such as the Network for the Improvement of the Forest Model promoted initiatives to analyze the causes and effects of the fires and prepare proposals to overcome extractivism, such as B. the Decree on Ecological Forest Restoration. Today, we join thousands of people and organizations from the mountains to the sea once again to show our solidarity with the areas and communities affected by the disaster.
And yet solidarity is not enough.
When we travel to the areas where the forestry condition of the major economic groups prevails, we observe how the new pine and eucalyptus plants (species that benefit from fire) have been planted in the same places as before, without significant changes in the form of monocultures . , without any respect for those who have already suffered the fire.
As major forestry companies burnish their image as a dangerous industry with environmental certifications, advertising, gifts to needy communities and political lobbying, Chile’s central-south zone, a global biodiversity hotspot, is catching fire. It is the failure of the state.
Only thanks to social denunciation and visibility of the catastrophe caused by the fires in Chile has the political class paid more attention to preventing and combating this scourge. After years of waiting, a law is being discussed that would provide for minimum regulation of the urban-rural interface. We appreciate this step, but it comes late and is not sufficient to prevent the recurrence of disasters and repair the damage caused.
You can’t block the sun with one finger. Two weeks ago, the Natural Rights District Court meeting in the Biobío region recognized that the state and large forestry companies were jointly responsible for the recent forest fires and that it was a real ecocide that affected the fundamentals of the existence of human communities and ecosystems.
Spending millions of dollars on aircraft, machinery and fire personnel will not be enough unless action is taken to end the forestry extractivism and corporate abuse that is causing these fires in Chile. Now they want us to normalize the risk and cover the costs of prevention and mitigation. People collect the dead, but who profits from the fires, who collects the insurance and takes advantage of the changed land use?
We invite civil society and social organizations to strengthen their commitment to immediate solidarity and solving the root causes of the fires in Chile, which are turning into real disasters. We call for proactively pursuing environmental justice, educating society about the causes and consequences of fires, and exercising its sovereign power in governing the territory and developing public policies and regulations that overcome the extractivist forestry model.
In many areas, neighborhood groups are already organizing to achieve environmental justice and repair the damage caused by the fires in Chile. Environmental groups and families are promoting recreation more using native species and traditional and ecological techniques. Mapuche communities are struggling to reclaim their territory and inhabit it based on their ancestral culture. Farmers promote agroecological cultivation and fair trade. Neighbors of urban areas surrounded by forests are becoming aware of the danger in which they live.
For our part, we demand that these fires in Chile be stopped immediately:
- That large forestry companies contribute their profits to cover the damage caused by forest fires in which they are involved;
- Imposing a moratorium on suspending all new forestry monocultures;
- Decree on ecological forest restoration with incentives for the restoration and rehabilitation of native ecosystems;
- Enforce existing restrictions and update regulatory plans, including urban and rural non-monoculture environmental restoration zones;
- Subject the forestry activity to environmental impact studies, prevent the plundering of groundwater and condition its existence according to the opinion of the surrounding communities;
- Repeal DL 701 entirely and require large forestry companies to refund decades of public subsidies;
- Mandatory social participation in the development of environmental remediation measures and spatial planning.