(by Matteo Meloni)
ROME, JANUARY 26 – Years ago the Italian Cooperation launched an initiative called “Amazonía sin Fuego” with the goal to reduce forest fires in the Amazon Forest safeguarding local inhabitants, animals and plants of that region.
“Amazonía sin Fuego” is one of Italian Cooperation’s best practices in environmental conservation and sustainable rural development, a model already followed in Brazil for ten years (1999-2009), activated then in Bolivia in 2011 and in Ecuador in 2016.
Forest fires in the Bolivian Amazon is a centennial plague that contributes to the climate change phenomenon in the South American country, a nation that hosts a huge biodiversity as glaciers and tropical forests. According to satellite pictures, the reduction of ice coverage of Bolivian glaciers, which lie at an altitude of more than 5000 metres, is clear. The use of fire in agricultural and production activities is a dangerous method that put at risk the lives of people and thousands of acres of farmland and forest.
Top institutional representatives of Italy, Bolivia and other agencies that support the programme took part at the presentation of a photo-book that contains the shots of Italian journalist Liza Boschin, an event hosted in Bolivia’s La Paz by local Ministry of the Environment.
Boschin works for Rai, Italian national public broadcasting company. “I’ve been in Bolivia in January 2016 for a reportage for ‘Presadiretta’ television show, trying to understand the effects of climate change on local glaciers and the rainforest”, she told Onuitalia. “I met there those who work for the ‘Amazonía sin Fuego’ programme and officials of Italian Embassy in La Paz that explained me how they teach different sustainable agriculture techniques to Amazonian farmers. With this photo-book, ‘Amazonía sin Fuego’, we want to share a clear message in order to make people aware about the risks caused by bad practices, like the use of fire in agriculture, or the effects of big cities’ pollution like La Paz on local farmers’ productions: high temperatures and drought are attempting their lives, survival and profits. I visited several areas with Roberto Bianchi, coordinator of ‘Amazonía sin Fuego’: we can export this model to other countries that face the same issues”, concluded Boschin.
The big consensus around the project was reaffirmed by the attendance at the event of Alexandra Moreira, Bolivian Environment Minister, together with Italian Ambassador to Bolivia Placido Vigo and the Director of the overseas office of AICS – Italian Agency for Development Cooperation – in La Paz, Vincenzo Oddo. Representatives of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and of the Technical Cooperation service of the Brazilian Embassy in Bolivia – which, in partnership with Italy, finances the programme – also participated at the initiative.
Ambassador Vigo highlighted the efforts made by the different institutions involved, underlining the importance of “Amazonía sin Fuego” as an initiative with a regional scope and vision. The project crossed states and political borders, becoming a good example of international management of sustainable development. (@melonimatteo)