In Spain, wildfires are being catalyzed by a combination of worrying factors. Prolonged drought, poor soil management and rising temperatures are just a few examples. In the last seven months, 15 major fires were registered in the country, five more than the average of the last decade.
During this hot summer, several countries in the Mediterranean basin face a serious forest fire situation. In Italy, Greece, Algeria and Tunisia, the flames continue unchecked in some areas, causing countless victims and leaving thousands of hectares devastated. As a result, many cities were evacuated to ensure the safety of residents.
This wave of forest fires represents a major threat to the natural environment and requires the collaboration and joint effort of firefighters and local authorities to extinguish these uncontrolled fires.
We are currently facing forest fires of great magnitude and difficult to control, which can last several days. These fires are a consequence of extensive areas of forests that are not properly managed or abandoned, not to mention the lack of interruption by nearby agricultural fields, Víctor Resco de Dios, professor of Fires and Global Change at the University of Lleida, who specifies this with “the current fires we enter a new reality”.
During the year 2022, in Spain, a country that is among the areas in Europe most prone to forest fires, around 268 thousand hectares of mountainous terrain were devastated due to fire, according to data provided by the Ministry of Ecological Transition. . a significant increase in the burned area has been observed in the last ten years. This value, which is more than three times higher than the usual average, clearly indicates a worrying trend towards more virulent, frequent and serious fires.
Urgent changes in the Forestry Policy
The specialist states that it is important to recognize the need for a change in the forestry policy, even if this is not feasible for this year. It is essential to adapt it to the challenges imposed on us by climate change and the growing forest fires. The goal is to reduce the severity of megafires by 2024 through effective strategies and preventive measures.
In the last 6-7 years we have seen a notable increase in the area burned during the summer. This is more important than the specific events that occur each summer season. The growing trend towards more intense fires is something we must take into account and take seriously.
Resco has promoted a multifunctional forestry policy that prioritizes fire prevention and people’s well-being. In addition, it is committed to creating and maintaining safe landscapes that are resistant to climate change and fire, thus contributing to the conservation of carbon stored in forests, which protect against erosion and shelter biodiversity, in a context of climate emergency.
It is important to highlight that, according to his perspective, the forest policy in recent years has been oriented towards conservation. However, he considers that this strategy has not had the desired success: Ecologists warn us that when a forest is not properly managed to promote supposed diversity, biodiversity decreases and, consequently, increases the risk to the ecosystem.
This is “the protection paradox”. According to Resco, it’s important to note that the more we protect landscapes by excluding them from human activities, the more likely megafires will occur. In his opinion, fire has today become the main administrator of our mountains.
Climate change as a fire catalyst
It has already been pointed out on several occasions that forest fires are not exclusively attributable to climate change, although this certainly contributes to their spread and prolongs the season: “Climate change is a wake-up call to act faster, a catalyst for wildfires“.
Resco is concerned about the alarming increase in extreme situations faced by firefighters and forest agents. This includes increased fuel availability for forest fires and mortality events in forested mountain areas. This situation poses significant challenges and jeopardizes the integrity of those who fight these fires and protect our natural resources. (…)
Just last year, in the week of June 15, Catalonia, 274 fire warnings were answered, in addition to other important ones in Sierra Bermeja (Málaga), in Sierra de la Culebra (Zamora) and in Navarra and Aragón , between others.
Self-protection plans against forest fires
The need for urbanization and city halls to implement self protection plans stronger and more effective against fire. This is because in situations of intense stress (wind, drought, heat waves), it is essential to have adequate measures in place to guarantee the safety of people and minimize the damage caused. Since the current ones are “insufficient” to prevent large forest fires from burning houses.
Forest fires emit a significant amount of energy, which can lead to exceeding established safety limits around buildings. For this reason, it is consideredpriority and important” reduce the forest biomass load in the surrounding areas to mitigate the intensity of the flames. The key to fire prevention is the proper management of the forest and its surroundings.
It is important to consider deploying fire zones in high risk areas to avoid buildings that could be affected. Similar to the floodplains, where building is prohibited, these designated areas would help prevent damage and ensure the safety of people and property. “We lack risk mentality”, concluded Resco, not many people know that they live on a powder keg.
With information from: https://efeverde.com/