Prime Minister António Costa has reiterated “the call for a national mobilization” to continue to change the attitude and behaviour towards the forest and rural fires during a biweekly debate on “Strategy and Management of Rural Fires”, in the Assembly of the Republic.

This change is “fundamental for the revitalization of the interior, mitigation of climate change for future generations”, he stressed.

The Prime Minister recalled that “in 2017, the Portuguese society recognized the limitations of a combat-centred system, which coexisted with a self-reliant landscape and where risky behaviour occurred”.

A new consensus was created that “has given priority to structural reform of the forest and preventive action on measures centred on combat”.

António Costa said that because of the climate change that “increases the danger and frequency of fires, we will only be less vulnerable if we change the landscape, if we ensure the active management of the forest and the interfaces with the villages and if we change behaviour, regarding burning of uncut vegetation and piles of debris that cause more than half of the fires’.

Structural measures

If in 2018 there was a ‘44% reduction in the number of fires and a 68% reduction in the area burned compared to the average of the previous 10 years’, this should not give the country a sense of security because ‘structural risk persists’.

António Costa emphasized that “prevention and fighting can only contribute to gaining some time for the forestry sector to reform and structural measures produce results”, so “postponing structural measures is postponing sustained results”.

The structural measures are the reform of the reform of the forest approved by the Government in 2016, one of which – “the extension of the simplified cadastre model to the whole country, after the positive results achieved in the pilot project that we have already executed” – is still awaiting parliamentary approval.

Point of situation

The Prime Minister took stock of the preventive actions that reinforce the resilience of the territory and of the infrastructures, of which the Safe Villages and Safe Persons program, which prepared more than 1863 settlements, was highlighted, and 1430 local security officers were identified and identified 1442 shelter locations.

António Costa also mentioned “the reform of the forest fire prevention and control model, bringing these two activities closer together, focusing on the professionalization and training of agents, and promoting their progressive specialization”.

The Prime Minister pointed out that there was also a “significant qualification of instruments for anticipating risk scenarios, interpretation and meteorological information, fire analysis” “in decision support cells at different levels of command”.