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Fires: report warns of the possibility of “faster and more serious” fires

The Integrated Rural Fire Management Agency (AGIF) warns of the possibility of “faster and more serious” fires, which could burn more than 750,000 hectares in a single year, without active vegetation management.

AGIF, which this Thursday delivered to parliament the 2023 report on the Integrated Rural Fire Management System (SGIFR), reports on the successes achieved in recent years in reducing the number of fires and the area burned, but draws attention to the fact that the country faces “the paradox of fire” due to the lack of planned fuel management.

“If we don’t increase the actively managed area with more forestry, more silvopastoralism and controlled fire, Portugal will be increasingly exposed to some serious fires that could burn more than 750,000 hectares in a single year and/or destroy unique places and threaten relevant infrastructures and urban communities,” says AGIF, led by Tiago Oliveira.

In the annual report, this entity points out that, although the necessary progress has been made in planning, prevention, preparation and mitigation, “intervention in the territory still does not occur on a sufficient spatial scale.”

“Without this scale, of the order of 300,000 hectares of permanently managed vegetation, defined in the National Action Programme, Portugal and the Portuguese face the paradox of fire: as we have been very successful in reducing the number of fires and the area burned , without actively managing the post-fire, especially in 2017, and without intervening on a large scale in the remaining green area, we have allowed fine vegetation, shrubs and trees to accumulate over the last six years, which will fuel faster and more severe fires ”the document states.

For AGIF, “despite the results and the solidity of the path taken, It still cannot be said that the country is protected from serious rural firessince there are still 14 of the 20 objectives of the strategic guidelines to be achieved.”

This entity indicates that, after the large fires of 2017, it was possible to “reduce the probability of fires, avoid disasters and save time”, but it is necessary to mobilize owners, producer associations, companies and municipalities to increase the area managed with forestry, grazing and controlled fire.

“Although there are positive results and much-needed progress has been made, the danger will persist in the absence of political determination to coordinate, accelerate and execute the Programme. In fact, with the current pace of implementation of the NAP [Programa Nacional de Ação 2020-2030]and the SGIFR will not be able to achieve the objectives set for 2030,” the report reads.

AGIF admits that “there is a great delay in projects that allow modifying the behavior of economic agents, in the ability to secure specific financing for subregional action programs with commitments to inter-municipal communities, as well as in the review of work processes in favor of of efficiency and improvement in the quality of technical and investment decisions.”

However, the report maintains that “genetically it is possible to affirm that the global objectives of the National Action Program are in line with expectations”, taking into account that since 2018 the loss of life in fires has been a rare event and 2023 was the First year in which no deaths were recorded.

According to AGIF, The annual accumulated burned area remained below 66,000 hectares and the percentage of fires greater than 500 hectares was less than 0.3%..

Created after the 2017 fires, AGIF, which is under the supervision of the Prime Minister, has the mission of planning, strategically coordinating and evaluating the Integrated Rural Fire Management System.

Source: Observadora

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