And outlines committment to reduce forest fires by 60%
Portugal’s secretary of state for nature conservation and forests, João Paulo Catarino, has reiterated the government’s committment to the country’s achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of over 85%.
“Our commitment is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, reducing emissions by over eighty-five percent and enhancing the capacity of carbon sequestration by land use and forests up to 13 million tonnes of carbon per year,” Catarino said in the closing address to a conference at the Bissaya Barreto Foundation in Coimbra.
He admitted, however, that this is a huge challenge.
To succeed in meeting it the country has to reduce forest wildfires by 60%: “from an annual average of around 164,000 hectares to 60,000 hectares by 2050”.
“It is, without a doubt, an enormous collective challenge”, said Catarino, “but also an enormous opportunity for the preservation and sustainable increase of our forest assets and for the urgent preservation of the rural world and the balance of our forests.”
Thus the priority is to “transform landscapes and rural spaces”.
He explained that to reduce burnt areas by half in the next 10 years will require “deep intervention” into 20% of the country’s forest lands.
Throughout his speech, the secretary of state highlighted the fact that the government’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) for spending post-pandemic recovery funds from the European Union foresees €270 million of investments associated with the reform of landscape transformation, as well as €136 million for forest fire prevention.
“With these more than four hundred million euros, we will increase the resilience and protection of forest, agricultural, and agroforestry systems, namely through the planning and ordering of rural territories and the promotion of their management with rationality, efficiency and professionalism,” he pledged.
For all this to be possible landowners and local authorities have to be ‘mobilised’, while ‘dynamic markets’ need to be found for the results of forestry transformation.
“We want a strong inter-relationship between the different agents that operate in the forestry sectors, in the production of new materials and products (…) “We want the deepening of partnerships between the public and private sector, to guarantee the continuity of projects considered structural for the sector.”