‘The country’s on fire’: wildfires hit every province in Argentina in 2022

Over half a million hectares burned last year, according to Amnesty International

All 24 provinces in Argentina reported wildfires in 2022. Salta, Corrientes and San Luis were the hardest hit, while Buenos Aires, Misiones, and Santa Cruz were least affected. It is estimated that these damages cost Argentina up to US$3.7 billion per year. 

According to government figures compiled by a new Amnesty International report, 561,165 hectares of land were hit by wildfires in 2022. Communities in affected areas told the report’s authors they’ve seen a significant decline in the presence of animals like caimans, capybaras, monkeys, and reptiles, as fires kill wildlife and destroy species’ natural habitats.

“It’s essential that the government works to protect the environment and human rights,” the report states.

Amnesty found that 95% of the fires are caused by human responsibility. The precise causes vary, from deliberate burning of grassland to farm crops and livestock to wrongly extinguished fires and negligence.

Climate change is also a key factor: high temperatures, intense droughts, and low water levels make the land more prone to fires and allow them to spread more rapidly, according to the report. 

The likelihood of fires in a given region depends on the climate conditions. For example, northern provinces are more vulnerable between July and December, while Patagonia and the Pampean region are most susceptible between January and April. 

In 2022, wetland areas in Corrientes and Entre Ríos were highly affected by wildfires, driving environmental organizations to insist on the importance of wetland protection. A bill seeking to promote its conservation and sustainable use – under the name of “Wetlands Bill” – was developed by over 380 environmental organizations and activists, but the initiative has not been debated in congress, instead facing repeated delays. 

Wetlands account for over 20% of Argentina’s territory.


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