Are the Spanish mountains ready to cease giant forest fires? | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Spain burns each summer season, and it does so with an increasing number of depth. The fires that have been a part of the summer season panorama have change into extra virulent and destroy plenty of hectares that ranges on common between 100,000 and 120,000 yearly. In the final decade, the giant forest fires (GIF), those who exceed 500 hectares have elevated by 21% and devour 40% of the floor they have an effect on, turning into infernos with explosive conduct past the capability of extinction regardless of how a lot Spain has change into the nation that allocates probably the most price range. What is unsuitable for this to occur? If the fireplace management skill can’t be assured, Can they be prevented?

Agricultural engineers, firefighters, forestry businessmen and even victims acknowledge that, though steps are being taken, they don’t seem to be sufficient. Investment has centered on extinction and that causes a paradox: the larger the effectiveness in extinguishing them, the extra excessive the fires change into. In the final decade, fireplace spreads at excessive pace and has a dramatic impression. This is what occurred in August 2023 in Arafo-Candelaria, Tenerife, with greater than 13,600 hectares burned, 9,000 of them within the Corona Forestal National Park, the biggest protected space within the Canary Islands. In March, in Villanueva de Viver (Castellón), outdoors the chance season, an energetic fireplace of greater than 20 days burned greater than 5,000 hectares on the border with the province of Teruel and, on those self same dates, as much as 16 fires burned 16,000 hectares in Asturias and others 11,000 in The Hurdes (Estremadura). In complete there have been 19 giant fires that devastated 89,000 hectares, in response to knowledge from the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

In 2022, the violence of the fireplace was distinctive. 310,000 hectares burned, thrice greater than the typical for the final decade. The most affected province was Zamora, the place 64,000 hectares burned in a number of fires within the La Culebra mountain vary between June and July, 6% of the Zamorano territory. Its origin was a dry storm, like that of Bejís and Torás, which lasted two weeks, burned 20,000 hectares in August and bordered on tragedy when a prepare was trapped. This fireplace compelled efforts to be doubled within the Valencian Community as a result of it coincided in time with one other within the Ebo Valley (Alicante) which reached 12,150 hectares. In reminiscence, the fireplace in Cortes del Pallas (Valencia), in 2012, to this point probably the most damaging fireplace within the historical past of Spain, burning 30,000 hectares.

These fires took form in what for the firefighters is the «magic week»round July 12, and the “black zone”which runs from the tip of July to mid-August.

This state of affairs, which is ceaselessly repeated, makes it clear that focusing efforts on the means to fight fireplace is just not sufficient within the face of those sixth technology fires which, moreover, not solely have an effect on mountains, forests and rural areas, however have change into a civil safety downside. The name interface zone that separates the city from the forest is disappearing and exposes populations extra, with evacuations, lack of infrastructure, and even threat to human lives.

The focus then turns to prevention, which entails forest administration. “Without sustainable forest management we will remain powerless in the face of extreme fire episodes”. It is the warning that launches Sunday Molinaprofessor of the Department of Forestry Science and Engineering of the University of Lleida and reaffirms it Marcos Gómez, vp of the Association of Workers of the Forestry Brigades (BRIF) of the Ministry of Ecological Transition. «The state of the mountains in Spain is the results of a synthetic administration. To alleviate deforestation, within the 70s and 80s they have been reforested with pine, which had a helpful wooden. But since 2000, its worth falls and we discover ourselves with lots of pine forests“, for example in Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha, monospecific and not very resilient, which have been abandoned because investing in their maintenance is not profitable,” explains this firefighter.

Enrique, sheriff of Toràs, among charred trees.

Enrique, sheriff of Toràs, amongst charred timber.A. OF LOLLI

This state of affairs, along with local weather change and depopulation, leaves us with a state of affairs the place, as Professor Molina describes in a number of articles, there is a rise in flammability in forest lots that accentuates the water stress. Some pine timber, for instance, shed their leaves, and this will increase the gasoline load that feeds any fireplace, “which is always born with the size of the flame of a lighter”factors out the BRIF member.

Everyone is evident concerning the recipe, the issue seems when attempting to use it. In stopping forest fires within the Mediterranean forest, the predominant one all through the nation, it’s important to remove gasoline.

-Is that phrase that’s often heard in fires 'this was a powder keg' true?

-It's true. The mountain can’t be a backyard or a subject of sunflowers, however it isn’t finished sufficient.

This is the warning from Marcos Gómez, who has skilled fireplace intensities that “melt glasses and protective equipment.” The ways in which all consultants mark as crucial are three: technical fireplace with prescribed burning that reduces gasoline, filter of banks or nodes of ravines and the forestry duties such because the exploitation of wooden, cork and, above all, agrosilvopastoral: intensive livestock farming, grazing. None of them are simple.

The so-called technical fireplace is utilized by the BRIF within the transition from winter to spring to trigger the discontinuity of the forest mass, what we may loosely name firebreaks. It is just not adequate in itself, however it’s crucial in a dry, and subsequently flammable, mountain. Furthermore, it doesn’t contain extreme expense. The price of burning within the Mediterranean setting is round 2,250 euros per hectareas calculated by the Life+ Project in Montserrat (Barcelona), whereas the price of extinction within the occasion of a hearth would exceed 10,000 euros, as estimated by the Navarra Forestry Agency.

Although it’s an more and more valued software, there are others which can be more practical in the long run, akin to creating landscapes with extra resistant species and, above all, to economically exploit the mountains once more. This would assure its preservation. Here the obstacles change into gigantic, as a result of if they’re not worthwhile, incentives have to be given. He is aware of Adolfo Miravetsupervisor Espadán Corksa household enterprise that exploits 15,000 hectares of cork oak forest contained in the Sierra de Espadán pure park (Castellón), “the purest on the peninsula”, is proud.

They make three million corks with their cork, however the efforts to acquire it barely go away any room for profitability. Its employees goes via 4 years of coaching “before picking up the axe” after having traveled the paths with donkeys that will probably be used to move the cork and the extraction price is round two euros per kilo. Your enterprise is uncovered to fires. «We do what’s honest. If we have been paid effectively to do forestry work, we’d do it, as a result of we’re the primary all in favour of making certain that the farms don’t burn,” warns Miravet between laments. «Until 2009, up to 2,800 euros per hectare were paid to do this work in natural parks. Now there are 850. And not even a low tax rate is applied to our products,” he tells El Mundo.

Adolfo Miravet, manager of Espadán Corks.

Adolfo Miravet, supervisor of Espadán Corks.A. OF LOLLI

They have been in command of destroying a part of the pines and heather that forestall the cork oak from rising, however then the legislative obstacles started. «There are communities the place you’ll be able to minimize, however you must take the wooden with you. Others like Aragon and Catalonia the place you’ll be able to go away it piled up, in others you must use it to make pelets or biomass, however all the things is in deficit as a result of, though the product has a market, prices skyrocket as a consequence of accessibility and nobody, beginning with the Administrations, pays for that work,” this businessman insists. The Miravet family also tried another recipe: Extense livestock farming. «There are no shepherds left nor do the cattle roam the mountains. We had 1,000 goats to clean and keep accessible, but pressure from environmental groups forced us to destroy the herd. We are going towards only one path: the abandonment of forestry agriculture and livestock farming.

In Toràs, the sheriff Enrique makes the same lament. He was the only one who remained protecting the town with the firefighters when the fire arrived from Bejís. Today the landscape is fallen or black trees, some cut down. “The City Council has auctioned the wooden, 15 euros per hectare, nothing for the house owners,” he says while touring the mountain with this newspaper. «It will happen to the towns that have not happened to them, because the entire mountain is ravaged.. It is not regenerating faster because it has not rained, but it will do so on its own and the pine will run, and it will pile up. There are no longer livestock to regulate it,” he laments whereas displaying how the cultivated areas, with Cherry timber o holm oaks They withstood the fireplace higher.

2024 appears like a tough 12 months. The vp of ATE BRIF is conscious. «The spring rains have meant that in a single half we’ve got to clear extra brush, as a result of the bush has grown lots, and in one other the place there was extra drought, that bush is dry and extra liable to burning and spreading ten occasions quicker than among the many timber,” explains Marcos Gómez. He agrees with Adolfo Miravet that organized uses of the forest would facilitate their extinction work, “as a result of fireplace is a part of nature and we can not ignore that,” but he invites a holistic reflection.

“You should make a ecological administration, just like the one our grandparents made. You can't put processors within the Sierra de Gredos, for instance, as a result of you find yourself with the mushrooms, that are extremely prized. We should make strips hooked up to the paths, skinny out pine timber in order that the cork oaks, brakes, oaks or chestnut timber return, open areas of discontinuity, as a result of if not, The day these pine lots begin burning, there is no such thing as a one to cease it.», he warns.

Much of the forest administration in giant areas of public forest arose from its earlier exploitation. «In Castilla y León there was an enchancment fund, but it surely turned scarce when the yield of the wooden decreased. Before, the municipalities had crews and vehicles, now only some are conscious,” he laments. And a fire depreciates the wood and leaves the soil dead, «like the lunar soil, and that is 80 or 100 years of misery».

Mount Torah in May, burned in 2022.

Mount Torah in May, burned in 2022.A. OF LOLLI

Part of this lack of prevention is due to the different positions and investments maintained by the autonomous communities, which have transferred powers, and another is due to the social changes that end up having an impact on the landscape. «There is agricultural land that will be forest within ten years.», Gómez predicts.

They see every day how the tilled lands or the olive groves that stopped the continuity of the fire are abandoned and how lives are exposed.

Work in the forest masses, crops, livestock and technical fire protect the forest, but also lives. Of the firefighters, who already They have learned “to retreat and anticipate these fires to present us the chance to assault them”explains Gómez, and of the inhabitants of the towns. “We should be taught to defend ourselves from fireplace, to know the way we must always act, the place to flee or what prevention duties would defend our home considerably,” he recommends. However, he sees that the little progress that is made will not bring results for decades. “With this panorama, we we’ve got a phrase: both it has burned or it will burn or it’s already burning“. Firefighter's phrase.