During 2016, Peru experienced an intense wildfire season, exacerbated by widespread drought conditions across the country.
The base map (Image 53, to the left) shows the 2016 fire alert hotspots.
These alerts are generated from a moderate-resolution (375 meters) satellite sensor (VIIRS) that detects significant new heat sources.
Image 53a. VIIRS/NASA, SERNANP.
Although there has not yet been a comprehensive evaluation of the causes of these fires, evidence indicates that many are linked to agricultural practices that allow fires to escape to surrounding natural habitats.
In the image, we highlight 5 significant fire hotspots in the Amazon basin, labeled A-E (A. Northern Peru; B. Lower Huallaga; C. Huánuco/Ucayali, D. Ene River, E. Southern Manu, F. Interoceanic Highway).
These areas are described in more detail below.
In the previous MAAP #51, we gave an initial impact assessment regarding the recent wave of fires in protected areas in northern Peru. Here, we provide a more comprehensive update.
Image 52a. Data: MODIS/NASA, SERNANP, NCI.
Our revised estimate is 6,594 acres (2,668 hectares) burned in 11 Protected Areas (see Image 52a) in late 2016. Note that the image is from November and smoke from the fires is clearly seen.
The majority (4,165 acres) occured in 7 national protected areas under national administration (Cutervo National Park, Pagaibamba Protected Forest, Laquipampa Wildlife Refuge, Tumbes National Reserve, Cerros de Amotape National Park, Tabaconas-Namballe National Sanctuary, Udima Wildlife Refuge).*
The estimates refer to areas directly affected by fires (i.e. burned) and come from two sources: our analysis of satellite images and field information from SERNANP, the Peruvian protected areas agency.
It appears that the primary cause of these fires is poor agricultural burning practices during a time of intense drought. These conditions allowed fires to escape into protected areas.
Below, we show a series of new satellite images of some of the burn areas (for images of other areas, see MAAP #51). We also publish a statement from SERNANP.
*The rest occured in 3 national protected areas under private administration (Chicuate-Chinguelas, Huaricancha, and Bosques de Dotor Private Conservation Areas; 1,927 acres) and 1 municipal protected area (ACA Cachiaco-San Pablo; 502 acres).