Background The Andes are recognized as center of biocultural and biological diversity that provide multiple ecosystem services threatened by different anthropogenic forces. Here, fires are widely used in agriculture and other traditional activities with the potential to become larger-scale, unmanageable “wildfires” and contribute to the degradation of both ecosystems and human livelihoods. In this study, we assess the temporal and spatial pattern of MODIS and VIIRS Active Fire Data (AFD) and their relationships to 9 environmental conditions and human activities across the three zones of the Huascaran Biosphere Reserve (HBR), Ancash, Peru between 2001 and 2020. Results Xeric climatic conditions seem to drive the temporal AFD pattern across and within years in the HBR. Across years, an oscillating increment of active fire alerts was evident, with years 2016 and especially 2020 displaying the highest AFD records of the two decades. Both correspond to years with the lowest mean annual precipitation. Seasonally, AFD also peaked at the end of the dry season (August and September), but AFD continue until late November of 2016 and 2020. The amount of people on the other hand, measured in terms of population and number of rural villages, is the main driver of where AFA occur, increasing along the limits of the Huascaran National Park (HNP) and the Buffer Zone (BZ) and in weakly controlled areas within the park. Conclusions We conclude that a combination of both, xeric conditions, and human pressures, seems to interact and produce high numbers of AFD along key Andean ecosystems like Puna grasslands and shrublands that are not ecologically adapted to this type of pressures. Land transformation and a limited capacity of control over key areas within the HNP seem to play an important role in where and when wildfires occur. Finally, although 2020 was an arid year, the covid-19 pandemic would have exacerbated the number of AFDs that occurred in the area, demonstrating that the effects of the pandemic go beyond health problems.
C. S. Sevillano-Rios, Daniel Huamán, J. Mendoza
Journal name not available for this finding