Due to the fires that occurred throughout the territory of the Province of Córdoba during this year, we asked the Provincial Ombudsman’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office for Girls, Boys and Adolescents to intervene in order to urge compliance with the duties that weigh at the head of the provincial authorities.
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The catastrophic fires that occurred in Córdoba during this year involved serious damage to local forest ecosystems, affecting an area of 350,000 hectares. These consequences not only had a full impact on the meager area of remaining native forest in the provincial territory, but also seriously affected fundamental rights. In particular, of those people or groups who are in a marked situation of vulnerability or who maintain a close relationship with native forests for one reason or another. In addition, they affected a serious mitigation component to the climate change phenomenon, the native forest.
The scope and magnitude of the fire undoubtedly revealed certain deficiencies in the fire management system by the authorities. The ordinance foresees specific duties in matters of prevention, budgeting, mitigation and restoration, which seek to avoid or at least mitigate these types of phenomena in the magnitude and manner in which they occurred, even more so if it is considered that the territory presented a high risk of fires due to severe drought and weather conditions.
Although the arrival of the summer rains alleviated the fire, the truth is that the future situation is still critical. The province currently has a tiny percentage of native forest, with a high risk of fire due to factors such as drought and other phenomena (intentional fires). For this reason, unfulfilled duties must be taken “seriously” and completed in order to avoid catastrophes such as those experienced. On the other hand, it is essential to comply with the duty to investigate, punish and restore the affected areas in a responsible way, guaranteeing citizen participation in plans and access to information for proper management.
Likewise, it is a priority that the citizenship and the State carry out inspection and control tasks of the affected areas, to avoid authorizations in the changes of land use or of protected categories, as ordered by Laws 26,815 of Management of Fire and 26,331 of Native Forests.
Juan Bautista López, firstname.lastname@example.org