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Wildfires and droughts devastate South American biodiversities

Wild Fire Alert

Under stress from a historic drought, large swathes of forest and wetlands in central South America known for their exceptional biodiversity have been ravaged by devastating fires.

Experts on Friday said wildfires in a region that spans Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, especially the region between the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay rivers, have become critical in 2020.

“There has been a dramatic increase in fires. In Argentina there has been an increase of around 170 percent, it’s very serious,” said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental politics researcher at Argentina’s San Martin National University (UNSM).

She says it’s part of a wider problem affecting multiple regions around the world this year, including in Brazil’s Amazonas state, Australia, California, and the Gran Chaco, South America’s second largest forest after the Amazon.

The Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands that span Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is experiencing its worst drought in 47 years.

The Parana river, one of the most powerful on the planet that originates in Brazil and empties into the River Plate estuary, is at its lowest level since 1970.

In August it was down to 80-centimetres in Rosario, eastern Argentina, rather than the usual 3-4 meters for that time of year.

It’s the same thing with the Paraguay river that is at its lowest level “in half a century,” according to Paraguay’s national weather center in Asuncion.

The fires are being fanned by ideal conditions, including strong winds, temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius and the dry season in which farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to try to regenerate the soil.

In Paraguay, “the fires … at the end of September and first week of October, broke all records,” Eduardo Mingo, a top official at the national weather center, told AFP.

The number of fires were up 46 percent in 2020, according to authorities.

Paraguay’s capital Asuncion and several towns in northeastern Argentina and southern Brazil spent days and even weeks submerged under a thick fog due to the intense fires.

And without the usual rainfall that moistens the soil, the wetlands have been particularly badly affected.

Images from the Brazilian Pantanal of the charred carcases of birds, snakes, caimans and trees have shocked the world.

A quarter of the area was devastated between January and September, while the Paraguayan Pantanal had already been badly affected by fires in 2019.

The Parana Delta that is home to species such as the jaguar, Pampas cat and several rodents, has been hit by fires of an unprecedented intensity since January, leaving a “desert of ashes” over tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands.

“Reptiles, migratory birds, small mammals and tortoises have died,” Cesar Massi, a naturalist in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, told AFP.

“I remember that during the last drought in 2008, there were fires. But this year they’ve been stronger, more intense and lasted longer.”

Agriculture is a massive source of income for the countries in this region but the slash-and-burn techniques used aggravate the situation.

In the north of Argentina “despite Covid-19 restrictions, between March 15 and September 30… twice the area of Buenos Aires was deforested,” according to Greenpeace.

The Mighty Earth NGO says that Paraguay’s dry forests are “one of the main sites of deforestation in the world, mostly due to the expansion of pastureland and more recently soyabean plantations.”

Argentina’s government has accused cattle farmers of setting fires to “increase pastureland area” in the Parana Delta.

One problem is that NGOs don’t have the necessary funding from governments to enforce rules and instigate large restoration or protection projects.

“The provincial government has less and less of a budget for prevention, there are no surveillance posts, the environmental police have been disassembled,” Alfredo Leytes, a member of the Ambiente en Lucha environmental collective based in Cordoba, Argentina, told AFP.

In Brazil “there has been a 58 percent decrease in ‘Brigadistas’ contracts,” said Alica Thuault from the Centro de Vida institute, referring to the volunteers that mobilized to tackle fires. She attributes blame firmly at the feet of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic.

Mohle wants different players, including farmers and ecologists, to work together “to regulate the use of land to ensure a more sustainable development than currently exists.”

Courtesy of trtworld.com

https://tinyurl.com/y5hqfr3b

In Syria, the promising olive harvest, destroyed by fires

Wild Fire Alert

Souheil Dib was eagerly awaiting the harvest of olives from his farm in Tartus, in western Syria, but fires have destroyed entire areas of Syria in recent days, leaving the branches of his olive trees charred.

61-year-old Dib inspects each branch of these trees inherited from his father for the slightest sign of life, but they all snap in his hands.

“It had a hundred trees,” he says resigned. “I have never seen a fire like it in my life.”

Favored by high temperatures, some 150 fire outbreaks broke out at dawn on Friday in the coastal provinces of Tartus and Latakia (west) as well as Homs (center), destroying more than 9,000 hectares of agricultural land, forests, orchards and olive groves , according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

Three people died in Latakia, according to the health ministry, and 25,000 people have been evacuated in the three provinces, according to Ocha.

Authorities announced Sunday that they had controlled the fire. On Monday, the layer of ash that covered the disaster area was still smoky and the surrounding mountains were huge charred surfaces.

With the economic crisis that the country is suffering after more than nine years of war, Souheil Dib had this year on the harvest to guarantee its needs for oil and olives.

“Our hopes were placed on this season to compensate for our successive losses (…) The olives were already ripe and fat and if it had not been for these fires we would be preparing today to harvest them”, laments this man who has spent his life taking care of these trees.

Courtesy of web24.news

https://tinyurl.com/yy9zrq3k

Flood death toll rises to 18 in Cambodia as over 25,000 evacuated

Severe Flood Warning

Flash floods in Cambodia have so far left 18 people dead and forced the evacuation of 25,192 people, Seak Vichet, a spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said on Friday.

Tropical storm-triggered rains caused floods in 19 of the kingdom’s 25 cities and provinces since the beginning of the month, he said, adding that 212,676 people have also been affected by the floods.

“By Friday morning, the floods have killed 18 people, including eight children,” Vichet told Xinhua, adding that the worst-hit provinces included Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Kandal as well as southwestern suburb of Phnom Penh.

The floods have also inundated 51,133 houses and 204,650 hectares of rice and other crops, the spokesman said. So far, 12,958 hectares of the affected rice and other crops have been destroyed.

Transportation has also been disrupted, as several major roads in the worst-hit provinces have been closed.

Water Resources and Meteorology Minister Lim Keanhor said on Thursday that further rain, wind and high waves are expected on Oct. 17-19 because the kingdom is suffering from the impact of tropical storm Saudel, which could lead to further flooding.

“People living in plains, along waterways and near mountains, fishermen and sea travelers should be extra-vigilant to avoid any possible dangers,” he said in a press statement.

Floods usually hit Cambodia between August and October. Last year, flash floods claimed 30 lives and storms killed eight people and injured 131 others, according to the NCDM.

Courtesy of xinhuanet.com

https://tinyurl.com/yxl3nvj7

Two buried in northern Vietnam landslide #Landslide #Vietnam

Landslide Danger Alert

Dinh Thi Huong, 37 and Dinh Hoang Yen, 6, in Ha Hoa District were killed by a landslide following heavy rains that lasted from Saturday night to Sunday morning, said Nguyen Viet Dung, chairman of the Ha Hoa people’s committee.

Seven others were injured and 14 houses, several streets and crops were damaged, he added.

“The rain was the heaviest in the last ten years. Huong’s and Yen’s houses stood right next to a hill, and the drenched soil slid onto the walls and crushed the victims,” Dung said.

Since Saturday night, northern Vietnam has experienced heavy rains and winds caused by cold air moving downwards from the north. Mountainous areas should expect rainfall of up to 120 mm within 24 hours, meteorologists said.

Natural disasters, mostly floods and landslides, killed 133 people in Vietnam last year and caused losses worth around VND7 trillion ($303 million), according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Courtesy of vnexplorer.net

https://tinyurl.com/y554pylb

Hailstorm ruins crops in the Riverina, Australia #Hailstorm #Crops #Riverina #Australia

Hail Alert

RIVERINA crops have been battered to the ground following a hail storm.

Wheat, canola and barely, that were showing promise of bumper yields, were not spared in the storm that swept through the region near Junee.

Tony Clough farms at “Windermere,” and “Brendon” and witnessed first-hand a storm that delivered a devastating blow.

He said 40mm of rain fell in quick succession and the hail that came with it bashed crops to the ground.

“It looks like I put 1000 wethers on the paddock and grazed it,” he said.

“There are two paddocks with nothing left,” Mr Clough explained.

He said wheat and canola was affected and to some extent barley was damaged to.

“We got absolutely smashed over a period of 20 minutes,” he said.

While the property “Brendon” was affected by the storm damage crops at “Windermere” largely escaped the storm which was estimated to come through in a strip spanning around two kilometres.

The damage has arrived at a time when crops in the region were looking fantastic due to good falls of rain.

NSW Farmers Wagga and district branch chairman Alan Brown said he had heard of large areas of crops being damaged by hail.

Mr Brown is also a crop insurance consultant. “The severity is high,” he said.

In addition to the Junee area Mr Brown said there were reports of damage coming in from Barellan and Weethalle as well.

“The damage is certainly there,” he said.

“And this is living proof as to why you should always insure for these events … it is sad for people who have been hit hard,” he said.

Mr Brown said the hail had come at the worst time because of the maturity of crops.

He said a storm like that meant there was nothing left.

The severity of losses in this area was expected to come to light in the next week or so as more people inspected crops.

Courtesy of therural.com.au

https://tinyurl.com/y6r5q224

Disaster declared due to extreme drought in Aroostook County, Maine, USA #Drought #AroostookCounty #Maine #USA

Drought Emergency Alert_2

The federal government has declared Aroostook County a “drought disaster” area as the region faces a prolonged dry spell.

This summer was one of the driest on record for The County — which has been placed under a severe drought status known as D2 — brought on by low soil moisture, lack of rainfall, drying vegetation and low stream flows.

The designation is given to areas experiencing severe droughts for eight consecutive weeks or a higher level drought intensity value for any period of time. Water levels in Aroostook and Penobscot rivers reached an all-time low earlier this year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The only other drought in Maine as severe as this was nearly 20 years ago — from 2001 to 2002.

“We have over 150 years of records at [the Penobscot water monitoring] location,” Nick Stasulis, the geological survey’s data section chief, told The Houlton Pioneer Times earlier this month. “So certainly that is a significant data set when you’re looking at the historical perspective.”

Due to the severe drought conditions, farmers in Aroostook, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington counties are eligible for emergency assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

Farmers have eight months from the date of a disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans from the USDA. The Farm Service Agency considers the extent of production losses on the farm and the operator’s security and repayment ability in reviewing emergency loan applications.

These emergency loans can be used to restore or replace “essential property,” pay off production costs accrued during the disaster year, cover family living expenses, reorganize farming operations and refinance debts, the agency said.

Other services such as the Livestock Forage Program, Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, the Emergency Conservation Program and the Non-insurable Crop Assistance Program are also available to farmers in counties in a severe drought.

Farmers in need of hay for their livestock can use the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Hay Directory, too.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry also encourages farmers to plan for future droughts by upgrading their water supplies and improving soil. Farmers should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or local Natural Resources Conservation Service for help with soil health practices.

Courtesy of bangordailynews.com

https://tinyurl.com/y59r456g

Storm ‘Noul’ causes flash floods, strong winds and landslides in Thailand #Storm #Floods #Landslides #Thailand

Storm Alert

People in 27 provinces have been affected by flash floods, strong wind and landslides caused by Storm Noul between Friday and Sunday.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported on Monday its assessment on the impacts of Noul in 27 provinces, mostly in the North and Northeast.

Flashfloods and landslides damaged infrastructures, farms, villages and other property. Nearly 2,000 households have been severely affected. One storm-related fatality and two injuries have been reported.

The storm has also brought flash floods and high tides in the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea, according to the Meteorological Department.

Courtesy of pattayamail.com

https://tinyurl.com/y22pm795

Locust crisis worsens in Zambezi, Namibia #Locusts #Zambezi #Namibia #Africa

Locust Alert

The African migratory red locusts continue to destroy grazing areas and crops extensively in the Zambezi region and have now reportedly started to spread further to other areas.

The locusts were spotted early this month in the flood-prone areas of Kabbe North and South as well as Katima Rural.

However, Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu yesterday said more locusts are being reported in different areas and the situation is getting out of control.

He said while the matter has been reported to the agriculture ministry, they are still waiting for more manpower to contain the further spread of the outbreak.

“The situation is still the same. More locust swarms are being reported in different constituencies of Kabbe North and South, as well as Katima Rural. We are waiting for additional manpower,” Sampofu added.

The governor said although the ministry is busy spraying in some areas, they lack manpower and protective clothing.

He noted there is just one spraying team on the ground and it’s difficult to cover the three affected constituencies.

In August, another wave of African migratory red locusts outbreak was reported in the region and the agriculture ministry deployed a team of extension officials to spray the area.

The locusts’ outbreak in northeast Zambezi region was detected in August in the flood plains at Lusese, Nakabolelwa, Ibbu and the surrounding areas.

Courtesy of neweralive.na

https://tinyurl.com/y6s3yhhw

Deadly Floods Destroy Crops and Homes in Northern Parts of Nigeria #Floods #Nigeria #Africa

Flood Alert

Thousands and homes and wide areas of crops have been destroyed in recent flooding in the states of Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto, northern Nigeria. As many as 30 people are thought to have died.

Jigawa State

Flooding in the state of Jigawa has reportedly damaged or destroyed 50,000 homes and affected 17 out of the 27 local government areas (LGAs). Wide areas of farmland is under water, damaging or destroying crops.

Local media quoting Jigawa State Emergency and Management Agency (SEMA) reported on 05 September that as many as 20 people have died in the flooding. Many of those fatalities were a result of building collapse.

Kano State

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 4 people have lost their lives after heavy rainfall and flooding in Kano state, northern Nigeria.

NAN said that the Kano State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has confirmed four persons killed and thousands of houses destroyed due to flooding.

The worst affected areas is Danbatta where around 5,000 houses were destroyed and 2 people died. Around 200 houses were destroyed in Rogo, where 2 other fatalities were reported.

Kebbi State

Meanwhile flooding has also affected north-western parts of the country, where 6 people have died in Kebbi state and 15 in Sokoto.

Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has sent a technical team to carry out full assessment of the recent flood that has devastated communities and farmlands in Kebbi state from late August.

Flooding has affected the 11 LGAs of Argungu, Birnin Kebbi, Bunza, Suru, Koko-Besse, Yauri, Shanga, Bagudo, Maiyama, Jega and Dandi. At least 5 bridges were destroyed and as much as 500,000 hectares of crops including rice, millet, sorghum, maize and sugarcane.

At Kende in Kebbi, the Sokoto River stood at 5.03 metres as of 30 August. The Sokoto joins the Niger river just south of Kende. The Niger at the Jidere Bode measuring station in Kebbi jumped from 1.4 metres in mid July to 5.74 metres by late August.

Recently the Niger river caused severe flooding in the neighbouring country of Niger, including the capital Niamey. According to Niger’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, as of 24 August, over 40 people had died, 226,563 people from 24,259 households were affected and 19,234 houses destroyed.

Sokoto State

At least 15 people have died in flooding in 6 LGAs in Sokoto state in north western Nigeria.

A total of 5,254 people have been displace and 27,000 affected across the local government areas of Goronyo, Rabah, Sokoto-North, Wamakko, Silame and Binji.

Another 12 persons were said to have sustained various degrees of injuries as a result of collapsed buildings. Wide areas of crops have also been damaged.

Courtesy of floodlist.com

https://tinyurl.com/y4a98bzk

Locust Swarms Ravage Crops In Kenya Again As Country Stares At A Food Crisis #LocustSwarms #Kenya #Africa

Locust Alert

Kenya has been hit by a second wave of locusts after billions of these tiny insects had already swarmed the country’s fields earlier this year. In the Turkana county, swarms of locusts have caused large-scale damage to standing crops, leading farmers to a state of despair over their near future. This locust invasion is being called by experts as the worst in 70 years. With 20% of standing crop damaged, the region is staring at a food crisis for humans as well as livestock.

The newest locust attack in Kenya will also lead to a dairy crisis since there may not be enough crop residue to feed the livestock. The region has already had a series of droughts since 2016 and the latest locust attack has prompted govt to carry massive aerial and ground operations to control extent of the damage. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is aiding the government’s efforts in trying to restrict the damage and ensure that the affected communities get back on their feet.

Courtesy of zee5.com

https://tinyurl.com/y6fsqqpz