Wildfires in Colombia have not only caused extensive damage to the nation’s unique ecosystems but also posed a significant threat to global biodiversity. One of the world’s most biodiverse nations is currently under siege from a series of devastating wildfires that have been ravaging the country since the beginning of the year.

Since the start of the year, more than 323 wildfires have burned across central and northeastern Colombia. The fires have been particularly severe in the Amazon region, with Axios reporting that over 40,000 acres have been scorched since November. The situation is expected to worsen, with the wildfires predicted to intensify and continue due to ongoing drought conditions and record heat.

The wildfires have also wreaked havoc near Colombia’s capital, Bogota, destroying more than 17,000 hectares of forest lands, with fires burning mere kilometers away from the city’s residential areas. The destruction of these forest lands is particularly concerning as they represent vital habitats for numerous species and play a critical role in the global fight against climate change.

Authorities predicted the crisis would last through February and March due to extreme heat.

In response to the escalating crisis, Colombian authorities have declared a natural disaster. At the moment, the country has extinguished approximately 204 fires this month, averaging around eight per day. However, 25 fires continue to burn unabated.

Reports say that the current wildfires are primarily the result of hot and dry conditions linked to the El Niño weather phenomenon. Officials warn that El Niño is expected to exacerbate the situation further.

The loss of over 17,000 hectares of forest lands is a significant blow to Colombia and the world. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries globally, and its forests are home to countless species that cannot be found anywhere else. The ongoing wildfires threaten this biodiversity and could lead to irreversible losses.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports 449 wildfires affecting 232 municipalities with a total burn area of 17,782 hectares since January’s start. This alarming rate of destruction highlights the urgency and scale of the crisis facing Colombia.

The wildfires in Colombia are more than just a national disaster; they are a global environmental crisis. The loss of these unique ecosystems could have far-reaching impacts on global biodiversity and the fight against climate change. As such, the world must pay attention and offer support where possible to help Colombia combat these devastating wildfires.

Image Source: People