From the press in Venezuela and Colombia, I know publicó́ that 2020 has been a year of forest fires. The affected regions are the Orinoco, Amazon and Caribbean Bioregions. We consulted the publication of the agronomist Mercedes Ferri Ramos, "Peón de Defensa Contra Incendios Forestales de la Xunta de Galicia", published in Seville in 2003 (Editorial Mad, S.L).
She defines forest fire así́: "the fire that spreads uncontrollably over the forest land, affecting vegetation that was not meant to burn. The author insists that forest fires cannot include the burning of crops, slash and burn (burning of brush or pastureland for the affected land, later dedicating it to agriculture) and that it is a condition that is uncontrollable for it to be considered a forest fire.
At the northern end of South America, at the most northern end, Venezuela and Colombia are facing the Caribbean Sea. Although Colombia has its front on the Pacific Ocean and its area below the equator, the Caribbean front shares many climatic similarities with Venezuela.
Our Environmental Education graduate professor warned us: "watch the environmental and climate news from northern Colombia, which are the same as those in Venezuela". Since then we got used to reading them. The dry season begins in November and ends in May, both in Venezuela and Colombia and its Caribbean zone of influence.
In both countries the dry season is expressed by the lack of rain, which brings with it the fall of the leaves of the trees of the tropical dry forest as a defense against the lack of water (deciduous). When the leaves fall, the death of susceptible trees and low vegetation, there is an increase of tinder (plant debris in the soil). Drought and tinder, are factors to produce forest fires. As time goes by, the dry season becomes the season of forest fires.
The inadequate use of bonfires, the dumping of lit cigarette butts from vehicles, the magnifying glass effect of transparent waste, the dumping of solid waste in the forests and along the roads, can start or help the development of forest fires. The "vocation" of some forests to use fires is still being studied, it is controversial and we still do not see agreement in the development of this knowledge.
Every four to six years, the El Niño phenomenon is added to the list, which in these northern South American countries is expressed by a deepening of the drought and the tendency to produce a greater number of forest fires. Let's remember that "El Niño Phenomenon" is a warming of the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean in its tropical zone.
It's funny to know that this phenomenon takes its name from the Colonial era, when some priests of the time, lent to the mobilization of the fish biomass and therefore the decrease in fishing capacity in December and January by the fishermen of Peru, to their attempts at Independence, naming it "The Punishment of El Niño Jesús". With time, it was apostrophized, diminishing its name until it became only "El Niño". When the opposite happens, that is, the cooling of the surface of the Pacific Ocean, which by the way is when the biological diversity of fish off the coast of Peru is most concentrated, it was given the name of The Phenomenon of La Niña.
In 2019, the El Niño phenomenon that reduced the amount and volume of rainfall in the Caribbean Basin, with an accumulated rainfall below that expected for the previous rainy season, presentó́ was followed by a more intense drought in 2020 and the result of a large number of forest fires.
It is said that after the El Niño Phenomenon, the La Niña Phenomenon appears the following year. Already the teams of scientists and the teams of meteorologists established the beginning of this last phenomenon, making projections for its greater influence in the months of September, October and November. This phenomenon is expressed in Venezuela and Colombia as an increase in rainfall, with a greater number and quantity of water from the rains.
Así́ as the El Niño Phenomenon "increases" forest fires, the La Niña Phenomenon "increases" river overflows, flooding of watershed areas and landslides (avalanches) from the mountains. If care is not taken in crop planning, crops are affected and can be lost during the El Niño Phenomenon, así́ also during the La Niña Phenomenon. Forests, when faced with so much rain, increase their biomass, their presence and density.
Looking from another point of view different from the academic one, we dare to say that the El Niño Phenomenon tends to "eliminate" with the Forest Fires what is useless in the forest, to then "wash" those ecosystems with the rains and Floods typical of the La Niña Phenomenon.