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Brazil: Bloggers lament urban forest fires

Foto: ramosforest (http://www.ramosforestenvironment.com/2009/09/fogo-na-pedra-da-gavea.html)

Photo: Luiz Ramos, from ramosforest blog. He says: "The fire was put out by the fire brigade. The local vegetation was destroyed. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but, it might have been caused by walking trail users.

On the evening of September 7th, a huge fire broke out at Pedra da Gávea, in the Tijuca National Park, in Rio de Janeiro. The destruction was witnessed from various neighborhoods of the city, such as Arpoador, Ipanema, Leblon, São Conrado and Barra da Tijuca. The fire began at around 10 pm, on the east face of Pedra da Gávea and at the very top of the hill, but with the help of the wind, it quickly swept across the west face, which can be seen from Barra da Tijuca. The forest was ablaze for over 10 hours.

The Maiti Nepal [pt] blog posted news of the following day's events and also placed a link to a video showing the fire:

Bombeiros do quartel da Gávea, na Zona Sul do Rio, retornam na manhã desta terça-feira (8), à Pedra da Gávea, para combater focos de incêndio ainda existentes na região. Na noite de segunda-feira (7), o fogo tomou conta da mata, numa região de difícil acesso. As chamas foram controladas, mas segundo informações dos bombeiros, ainda existem pequenos focos em áreas isoladas.

The fire brigade from the south zone of Rio de Janeiro returned this morning, Tuesday 8th, to Pedra da Gávea, to control those outbreaks that persist in the region. On the evening of Monday 7th, the fire took hold of the forest, a region of difficult access. The flames were controlled, but according to information from firefighters, small outbreaks in isolated areas remain.

Rio de Janeiro's Member of Parliament Fernando Gabeira describes in a paragraph on his blog [pt] the feeling of all those who witnessed the blaze. He says of a photo taken by freelance photographer Maria Elisa Franco, one of many citizens who spent the night gazing at the fire and taking pictures from their windows:

A Beleza e a Tristeza do fogo na Pedra da Gávea

Os leitores de O Globo de terça-feira, dia 8 de setembro, levaram um susto: uma belíssima foto mostrava a mata em torno da Pedra da Gávea em chamas, transformando um dos ícones da paisagem carioca em uma espécie de vulcão.

The beauty and sadness of the fire in Pedra da Gávea.
The readers of O Globo newspaper had a shock on Tuesday, 8th September: a beautiful photo showed the bushes around Pedra da Gávea in flames, transforming an iconic Carioca landscape into a kind of volcano.

Carlinhos de Ipanema [pt] takes the opportunity to reflect on humanity's lack of sustainability:

Dia dêsses, fui surpreendido pela imagem da Pedra da Gávea cuspindo lava fumegante pelas encostas e descobri que estamos sentados em um barril de pólvora, a Terra se ressente das iniquidades contra ela praticadas desde sempre, e aniquila formigueiros como outras civilizações subdesenvolvidas, liberando a água, os ventos e o fogo para a reforma da sua superfície.

In recent days, I have been struck by the image of Sugar Loaf spewing steaming lava down its slopes and realised that we are sitting on a powder keg, the Earth suffers the wrongs committed against her, and just as it destroys ant nests so it does other underdeveloped civilizations, releasing water, winds and fire to reclaim its surface.

Now, over three months since the tragedy, the matter seems to have been forgotten by authorities and many bloggers alike. Apart from the bloggers at Pão de Açúcar Verde [pt] that is who are doing their bit to help, gathering information about the restoration work of the Sugarloaf Mountain carried out by volunteers. For their last task of the year, the volunteers cleaned out the smaller hill beside the Sugarloaf known as Morro da Urca. Anyone can join the group for the 2010 activities:

Nossos mutirões acontecem sempre no 1° domingo do mês, às 9:00 hs e o ponto de encontro é na Praça General Tibúrcio, em frente à Praia Vermelha.
Nesses quase cinco anos de trabalho, conseguimos reverter um quadro de degradação ambiental instalado ali. Por causa da péssima qualidade do solo, que também é muito raso, o progresso é lento, mas o resultado já é visível. […]
Você está convidado (a) a participar dos nossos mutirões. O pouco que contribuímos faz diferença e minimiza o impacto que o grande numero de montanhistas tem provocado na área em que atuamos. O entorno do Pão de Açúcar é uma espécie de quintal dos montanhistas. É razoável que cuidemos, no mínimo, do nosso quintal. Façamos a nossa parte. O planeta merece.

Our joint efforts always take place on the 1st Sunday of the month at 9:00 am and the meeting point is Praça General Tiburcio, in front of Praia Vermelha.
Over nearly five years of work, we have been able to reverse the environmental degradation seen there. Because of the poor quality of the soil, which is also very shallow, progress is slow, but the result is already visible. […]
You're invited to participate in our joint effort. The little we do to contribute makes a difference and minimizes the impact caused by the large number of climbers in the area in which we operate. The surroundings of Sugarloaf are a sort of backyard for climbers. It is reasonable that we take care, at least, of our backyard. Let's do our bit. The planet deserves it.
Foto: Arnaldo Interata

Pedra da Gávea, a rock rising 842 meters above sea level at the highest point, located in Floresta da Tijuca in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Paulo Afonso de A. Teixeira, from the Wikimedia Commons

The Tijuca National Park is a mountainous hand-planted rainforest and is the world's largest urban forest, made up of the Tijuca Forest, the Paineiras Forest – where the famous Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado is located – and Pedra Bonita – from where people go hang gliding. It covers an area of some 32 km² of Atlantic Rainforest and is disappearing on a daily basis because of the illegal occupation of the slums of Vidigal and Rocinha. In addition to preserving the remaining area of the Atlantic Forest, the Park is also fundamental to the protection of water sources, as the rivers Carioca and Maracanã supply part of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The fire affected area is also home to several native species of orchids and bromeliads threatened with extinction.

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