Prime minister António Costa has pledged his government is fully committed to transforming the condition of Portugal’s forests so that they are less vulnerable to wildfires.
It’s a commitment that he acknowledges decades of previous administrations have been afraid to tackle.
Speaking at the presentation of 20 new teams of forestry sappers (first-line forestry protection) in Oliveira do Hospital, along with 29 new firefighting vehicles, Costa stressed that the key to tackling the issue of wildfires is keeping forests and brushland ‘clean’.
Thus the registry will go a long way towards identifying landowners, and obliging them to reduce the fire-hazard threat on their properties.
Sappers too are being increased as the government sees sapper teams’ role in forest fire prevention as “absolutely essential”.
Meantime, data released by the ICNF (forestry commission) for the first half of 2017 shows that fires devastated six times the last decade’s average of forestland.
This translates into a total of 128,000 hectares, just from January 1 to June 30.
The global figure once summer temperatures subside will be even higher bearing in mind we are still in the grip of the so-called ‘Phase Charlie’ – the height of the traditional fire season.
One saving grace today (Friday August 4) is that there are no significant blazes anywhere on national territory.