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IEFC - Lettre - Article n° 19

Lettre IEFC

Article 18 - Article 19 - Article 20

Posted byA. Merino, USC Lugo [2006-09-01 00:00:00]

Large wildfire in Galicia

Galicia suffered from an outbreak of forest fires during the first fifteen days of August. 1970 forest fires were registered; the burned area is more than 80 000 ha, which represents 3 % of Galicia’s surface and 4% of its forest surface. The volume of burned wood reaches more than 5,5 millions cubic metres. The most affected districts were Pontevedra and Coruña where we can find 80% of the burned surface.

Forest fires are a frequent problem in this area. During the last 10 year the average burned area by year is of 30 329ha. In 1989 the burned areas almost reached the 200 000ha. There are several and complex reasons for this phenomenon. On one hand there are environmental conditions on this region that help the development of forest fires. The soft temperatures and strong rains during spring favour the development of a great quantity of biomass which dries during summer. This year the situation was aggravated by the strong temperatures associated with the North-East winds during the first fifteen days of August. A second factor which favours the propagation of forest fires is the stands’ structure. Most of the forest private ownerships are formed by small plots (the average surface is of 2ha) unmanaged. Moreover, the forest practices are based on massive reforestation of pines and eucalyptus which favour the appearance of bushes, most of the area remains uncultivated due to the abandon of the traditional bushed practices. This situation associated with the poor forest incomes has leaded to a important abandon of forest plots in several forests. Finally, there is one last reason that cannot be forgotten, there are people willing to start forest fires for several reasons (vengeance, profits …).

To face this problem the government of Galicia approved a plan for recovering Galicia’s forest and environment to which it will be affected, between 2006 and 2009, 126 millions euros. The four axes for this plan are :

  • The forest planning and rural planning,
  • The development of forest and improvement of its structures,
  • The regeneration of habitats,
  • The restoration of water courses and renovation of the infrastructures for the environment and for fight against forest fires,
Between the most urgent measures to be taken there is the programme of exploitation of the burned wood in order to keep its reasonable prices. The ministries of the rural affairs and environment have organised meetings with experts from several areas to define the actions to be taken.