Human health in major riverine wetlands, Argentina

Rosario Aug 19, 2010 Grassland fires near South America’s key river delta pose a serious threat to nearby wetlands and human health, environmental leaders say, as water levels in the once-mighty Paraná River drop to decades-low levels. Low

Wildfires near the main river port of Rosario, which is crucial for shipping Argentina’s large grain crops, have residents and activists worried about a prolonged drought that has worsened this year’s lack of rain and highlighted the consequences of hot, dry weather. .

“The cumulative effect is making it worse,” said Enrique Vial, one of Argentina’s environmental lawyers.

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The Paraná River, South America’s second-longest waterway after the Amazon, last year saw its water level drop to the lowest since 1944, according to official data, due to several drought cycles and low rainfall in upper Brazil. His level is very low.

Heavy smog, fueled by the wildfires as many farmers prepare their land for new crops, reached Buenos Aires, 190 miles (300 kilometers) south of Rosario, earlier in the week. The soot in the air has sparked outrage from residents, with popular weather apps releasing forecasts that simply call it “smog”.

Earlier this month, thousands protested the fires in the streets of Rosario, calling for enforcement of the ban.

Roberto Rojas, director of emergency services in the area, said: “Plant life around the river delta has been severely affected.”

He pointed out that before the recent fires, about 28,000 hectares of land were burned, and the total land lost in the fires reached 500,000 hectares in the past years.

“With this kind of climate, without too much wind and rain, we can only wait to see how this story ends,” Rojas added.

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Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco and Claudia Martini; Written by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Richard Chang

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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