Dozens of forest fires scorch Cuba, threatening brittle economy | Environment News


An estimated 80 wildfires have struck the nation since January, with blazes approaching the populous Santiago de Cuba.

Huge forest fires have continued to blaze throughout the island nation of Cuba, bearing down towards the province of Santiago de Cuba, house to the nation’s second largest metropolis.

On Tuesday, the provincial authorities introduced {that a} high-intensity hearth had been contained close to the municipalities of San Luis and Mella, the latter of which noticed 250 residents be a part of efforts within the early hours of the morning to stem the flames.

Since January, officers in Cuba have counted an estimated 80 wildfires throughout the nation, with firefighters, armed forces and park rangers struggling to regulate the burns. Greater than 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) have been consumed throughout the island, with farms and occasional crops reportedly destroyed within the flames.

On Monday, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel took to Twitter to recognise the “heroic battle” of these battling the blazes, praising the employees on the entrance traces of Holguín province, the place a pine forest area known as Pinares de Mayarí is on hearth.

“The braveness and sacrifice of the firefighters, forest guardians and residents who face the fires devouring the gorgeous and useful forests of the japanese area in Pinares de Mayarí is nice,” Díaz-Canel wrote.

Officers in Cuba warn of long-term financial impacts as forest fires advance throughout the nation [File: Juan Pablo Carreras/Reuters]

Officers on state tv have stated the fires are spreading throughout “a large space, not only one focus”. A number of the hardest-hit provinces embrace Pinar del Río and Artemisa to the west and Camagüey and Holguín to the east.

The fires had beforehand threatened Cuba’s Mensura-Piloto Nationwide Park, a delicate ecological area comprised of 6,046 hectares (14,940 acres), identified for its forested mountains and cascading waterfalls.

Cuba’s mountainous terrain and ongoing drought have impeded efforts to stamp out the flames, with officers warning the nation might take years to recuperate from the devastation.

The nation is within the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades, with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a precipitous decline in its tourism industry, one in every of its fundamental financial drivers. In 2020 alone, Cuba’s economic system shrank by 11 p.c, the most important drop for the reason that collapse of the Soviet Union.

Underneath former President Donald Trump, the USA additionally imposed a marketing campaign of “maximum pressure” on Cuba, ratcheting up sanctions and rescinding insurance policies designed below his predecessor, Barack Obama, to ease tensions between the two countries.

Cuba’s struggling economic system has spurred one of many largest migration crises within the nation’s historical past, in addition to shortages of meals and different primary requirements.

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