SNA: Chilean fire damage to ag, forests hits US$400M

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SNA: Chilean fire damage to ag, forests hits US$400M

Chile's National Agricultural Service (SNA) has said damages to forestry and farming will likely be in the region of US$400 million, along with "irreversible" effects on the country's ecology.

A particularly hot and dry summer led to some of the worst fires in the South American country's history, with the blazes having covered nearly 600,000 hectares (1,482,630 acres) of land. 

SNA president Patricio Crespo highlighted the serious impact the fires have been causing on the inhabitants of the various communities affected in the country's central-south regions,, describing it as a "social tragedy."

"The effects on the agricultural sector are large, although it is premature to evaluate the impact of lost profits, job losses, the number of animals or installations lost, along with houses and machinery," he said.

He said around 400 hectares of olive production had been burned, along with 100 hectares of wine grape production, with a total cost of around US$5 million. Losses were also incurred to the wine bodegas and packinghouses.

The cost of damages to the country's forests are expected to be around US$350 million.

"In the coming years we will see an impact on employment and rural incomes, which will undoubtedly have an effect on the future quality of life of the communities and could result in an increase in migration from rural areas to the cities," Crespo said.

On Monday the National Forest Corporation (CONAF) confirmed there were still 43 active fires, of which eight were being combatted, 28 were under control and seven were considered extinguished.

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