Leoardo Guajardo’s house was saved from the fire, but all the crops and fruit trees were lost – Investigations into the 2017 fires uncovered that the pine plantations were infested by a borer wasp. The insect burrowed into the trees, damaging them and causing their commercial value to decrease. The logging industry did not have an insurance policy against insect infestations, but it did have insurance against fires. Many in the communities believe the fires were intentionally set by the timber companies to claim the insurance. Photo Credit: Orin Langelle

 

2024 photo essay redux of Chile’s 2017 wildfires 


When wildfires broke out in Chile this month, I began a redux of my previously published photo essay about Chile’s 2017 wildfires – the worst in the country’s history. In the years since, more severe wildfires have scarred the landscape, with 2024’s fires the deadliest on record.



Media blames the fires on climate change, El Niño, higher temperatures, strong winds and drought. While true, another major contributing factor to the wildfire disasters is widespread plantations of highly combustible pine and eucalyptus trees.



From my Photographer’s Statement in the 2017 photo essay:

An international delegation from the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees arrived in Santiago, Chile, in March 2017, to document the social and environmental impacts of the forestry industry in the country, as well as its links with recent forest fires, which were the worst in Chile’s history.

 

The fires began in January 2017. It is estimated that eleven people died, 1,500 homes were destroyed, thousands of people displaced, and over 500,000 hectares decimated.

 

The Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts


 ObservatorioLatinoamericano de Conflictas Ambientales


 – OLCA sponsored the delegation. Another sponsor of the delegation was Global Justice Ecology Project.

 


I accompanied the delegation as a photojournalist and participant.  To see Chile’s Wildfires: Another Pinochet Legacy continue to 



Global Justice Ecology Project’s page dedicated to the photo essay


  or 


Social Documentary Network


.