31 December 2011

Mourning the Torres del Paine


On New Year's Eve this was the kind of news I didn't want. I loved the few days I had trekking in the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and still think of that spectacular landscape. But now the park is burning — already about 8500 hectares has been consumed. I suppose I could say I was lucky yet again to have enjoyed the park before this disaster, but in these circumstances I simply can't think that way.

These spectacular peaks are the Cuernos del Paine. They'll look the same after the fire, but the context will be entirely different.




[20 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 100, 1/125 at f16]



All content © 2011 Pete McGregor

10 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

Heartbreaking. Is the Chilean vegetation like many native species in Australia which actually need fire to germinate or will it have to start from nothing again? Here an area can be devastated and after a little rain the regrowth is apectacular.

Relatively Retiring said...

Such very sad news, but I echo Elephant's Child in asking if this is part of a natural process, necessary for regeneration?

Zhoen said...

Yellowstone Park had a huge fire in '88. Changed how smaller fires are managed - as a natural process, not something to be fought. More of an inconvenience to the people, the land wasn't so bothered. Even though it was also likely caused by human carelessness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_fires_of_1988

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

My thoughts echo all those posted here and I shudder to think of the horror of the fire.

bigskymo said...

I am saddened by this news. I feel fortunate to have been there. With that infamous wind it's surprising that there haven't been more fires. Changing landscapes... ever changing.

pohanginapete said...

Thanks everyone. Fire is not a usual part of this ecosystem; the plants and animals are not adapted to cope with it. To put it bluntly, this is an unmitigated disaster.

A trekker has been arrested on suspicion of causing the fire.

The Elephant's Child said...

I cannot understand arsonists. Anywhere, but particularly in delicate and fragile ecosystems.

pohanginapete said...

Elephant's Child — neither can I understand arsonists, but in this case the fire seems to have been the result of negligence (and possibly the flouting of Park rules) rather than malicious intent. However, the person charged now claims he's innocent, contrary to the official statement that he'd admitted negligence. The only thing clear is that in this kind of environment, fires are extremely unlikely to start spontaneously.

FroggyDew said...

45 000 hectares today and still not put out... It will take a while to recover from that...

pohanginapete said...

Froggy Dew — 45 000?! A recent report reported 33 000 acres (about 13 350 ha) and that the fire has been brought under control. Whatever the true figure, it's horrendous. I just hope it has indeed been extinguished, but you're right about the recovery time.