The 2020 dry season forest fires caused extreme damage to the Caracol Archaeological Reserve and the Chiquibul National Park ecosystem, both of which form part of the Maya Forest, known as the largest remaining contiguous block of neo-tropical forest north of the Amazon. These forest fires burnt vast regions of standing tropical forests as a consequence of uncontrolled and unsustainable slash and burn milpa farming by Guatemalans, leaving behind severe burn scars. Given such severity and extent of the fires this study was conducted with the aim of assessing and quantifying the total acreage of forest and vegetation that was burnt due to human-caused forest fires for the 2020 dry season, in the Chiquibul Forest, using the NBR methodology. Landsat-8 images, dated May 4, 2019 were used to calculate the pre-fire 2019_NBR and Landsat-8 images dated May 22, 2020 were used to calculate the post-fire 2020_NBR, using the Raster Calculator Geoprocessing Tool. The change in pre-fire and post-fire NBR (2019_NBR – 2020_NBR) was then calculated. The fire scars were then digitized. A total of 8,216.46 acres were impacted in the Chiquibul Forest, which represents 3,284.42 acres in the Caracol Archaeological Reserve and another 4,932.04 acres in the Chiquibul National Park. The results of this study revealed that the 2020 forest fires were devastating and urges for an increased intervention to reduce agricultural incursions and cattle ranching that prevents further degradation of the forest.


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