Environment activists protested on Wednesday to demand measures to tackle fires raging in Bolivia. The forest fires, set to clear land for farming, are destroying nature, killing animals and causing harmful air pollution. The protestors chanted, ‘Don’t touch the forest’ and ‘Biocide government, incapable government.’
“Unfortunately, Bolivia keeps burning. We are demanding to declare a national emergency. Communities and animals are crying, and we are losing biodiversity,” Yasmin Gonzales, who was part of the protest in front of the Defense Ministry in La Paz, said.
Setting fires to clear forest land for farming is a common practice. According to the Environment Ministry, around two million hectares of forest have been burned this year in Bolivia. The skies over the capital La Paz, and the second city of El Alt were blackened by smoke Wednesday.
The Air Quality Index in La Paz was 194 on Wednesday, a level considered very poor and dangerous for human health.
“The atmosphere pollution index is increasing. At the moment, we have 194. It rose during the morning as we were at 172, 188 and 196. Because of the climate conditions (drought), there is smoke, which is caused by the agricultural burning at the north of La Paz, and it’s arriving at the city,” Marc Antonio Martinez, chief of prevention and environment control at La Paz government, said.