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Monchique Council intervenes in areas with high fire risk


Monchique, Faro, 28 Apr 2022 (Lusa) – The City Council of Monchique is carrying out interventions in areas with high fire risk to increase resilience in the event of forest fires and provide greater security to populations, works financed by the Condomínio de Aldeia program.

After the area was hit, in 2018, by the biggest forest fire in Europe that year, the priority is now the defence of the population centers located in the forest area of ​​Monchique, the Algarve area most affected by forest fires in the last decades.

According to the mayor, Paulo Alves, explained to Lusa, the interventions, which focus on areas of high fire danger, aim to reconvert areas of bush, eucalyptus and pine through the planting of indigenous species, such as the strawberry tree, cork oak or citrus.

“That is the intention, to make those housing environments safer and more resilient to fires, also giving the opportunity to owners to later reconvert those areas”, he explained, stressing that all the intervened areas were affected by the fire of 2018 or others.

The first intervention, which has already been completed, was carried out at the Montinho site, covering an area of ​​21 hectares and six owners. Work is now underway in Portela da Serenada and Corchas, totaling 18 hectares and 21 owners.

The Municipality of Monchique is still preparing an application for three more village condominiums in the areas of Restolho da Aveia, Belém and Corgo do Vale, in a total area of ​​35 hectares shared by 75 owners, added the mayor.

In practice, the work aims to implement fuel management strips around population clusters, by removing, above all, eucalyptus and invasive shrubs, such as acacia, and then placing species that are more adapted to the Mediterranean climate.

As the head of the Rural Development division of the Câmara de Monchique, Sónia Martinho, explained to Lusa, in places where slopes are above 25%, terraces are being opened, that is, platforms where native species will also be planted, helping to decrease the propagation speed in case of fire.

“These trees, being autochthonous, are more adapted to our climate, which is dry, the Mediterranean climate. Cork oaks, on the other hand, have self-protection against fire, which is cork, and we can say that they are more adapted to this location and that they will also have more resilience to a fire”, he said.

However, equally important is the way in which the species are being planted and how this management will be maintained in the future, he noted, regretting that agricultural areas are not included in the program, financed by funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) through of the Environmental Fund.

“It was very important for us to be able to extend this program and open it to other agglomerates, especially those with more agricultural area, because then we would achieve more effective management and an increase in productivity”, he underlined.

According to Sónia Martinho, the program’s eligibility criterion for applications is that the intervention is carried out in areas with more than 60% of forested area, so there are already few agglomerates in Monchique with this characteristic.

Speaking to Lusa, the regional director of Agriculture for the Algarve, Pedro Valadas Monteiro, considered that agricultural activity is “fundamental” for these areas to become more resilient to fire, first of all, because it is yet another income-generating activity.

“We know that one of the constraints on forestry production, we are talking about slow-growing species, is that yield takes decades, and with small vegetable gardens and orchards, agroforestry producers have an opportunity for intermediate yields”, he observed.

On the other hand, he added, the existence of agricultural areas requires land cleaning, because it interrupts the forestry continuum in the event of a fire, in addition to the fact that agriculture requires more attention from landowners, who “go there more often”. and, being there, they clean and are more vigilant to any ignition”.