Government says over 90% of municipalities have forest fire protection plans

More than 90% of mainland Portugal’s municipalities have “effective and up-to-date” Municipal Fire Protection Plans (PMDFCI), the Minister of Internal Affairs announced on 4th December today, saying that Portuguese can rely on “good results”.

“The Portuguese can rely on the results, these two years – 2018 and 2019 – account for the results, […] good laws, good plans are needed, but above all good results are needed and that’s why we respond,” said Eduardo Cabrita at the presentation ceremony of the first Republican National Guard (GNR) ranger course, held in Queluz, Sintra, in the Lisbon district.

According to the information provided in the infoPMDFCI online application of the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), 59 of the 278 municipalities in mainland Portugal do not have updated PMDFCI in force.

However, the minister assured that, “today, over 90% of the continent’s municipalities have effective and up-to-date plans.”

“But I would say that, in this matter, what is fundamental is the collective conscience, is the commitment of means, that alone will guarantee the results,” said Eduardo Cabrita.

Mandatory for all municipalities on the Portuguese mainland, the PMDFCI aims to operationalize at local and municipal level the standards contained in the DFCI legislation.

As part of an audit of the PMDFCI, which analysed 278 municipalities in mainland Portugal, from 2015 to 2017, the Court of Auditors concluded that 32 municipalities do not undertake to carry out the actions contained in the PMDFCI. Therefore “the fact is that the existence of PMDFCI does not, by itself, guarantee greater capacity in forest defence, although it allows the fulfillment of an obligation and attesting to a compliance status that has an impact on municipal funding.”

From the perspective of the head of the Internal Affairs portfolio, Portuguese society realized that DFCI is a theme that “demands a response throughout the year, requires knowledge, requires preparation”, stating that “if something has changed in Portuguese society, over the last two years, it has been the priority given to prevention.”

“If the results of these two years were encouraging in reducing the burned area, but especially in saving lives, I think that what has changed is the deep commitment of all public policy sectors, also the municipalities, who have realized that this is an essential area, even as first-line civil protection officials, ”said the minister, considering that in view of the“ good results ”one cannot but“ maintain this absolute priority ”.

On August 16 this year, the Government ordered the retention of 20% of the twelfth of transfers from the Financial Balance Fund to Odivelas, Paços de Ferreira and Peniche because they have not yet approved the PMDFCI.

A note from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI) stated that the withholding would be made by the Directorate-General of Local Authorities.

According to the current wording of Decree-Law No. 124/2016, municipalities are required to draft, execute, evaluate and update the PMDFCI.

In addition, the MAI said in a statement at the time, the State Budget for 2019 determined that “failure to comply with this standard by 31 March 2019 will result in the retention of 20% of the twelfth of current ETF transfers”.

“After the legal deadlines for pronouncing the municipalities, and having not been answered in any of the three cases, regarding the submission of their plans to the ICNF, the retention was determined,” said the MAI.

At that time, the Government indicated that the “clarification phase for 19 municipalities with the participation of ICNF” was still underway.


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