“Only by knowing the land can we develop public policies for protection”
Portugal’s BUPi platform has already identified more than 550,000 rural properties in the country with the aim of being “a fundamental tool” in the fight against wildfires, according to data released by minister of justice Catarina Sarmento e Castro.
BUPi is a recently created platform which allows rural property owners without their documentation in order and without their properties duly identified geographically to update their respective registries.
It was created to “make up for a widespread lack of knowledge of the geographic location, geometry and ownership of rural properties.”
The minister accompanied the prime minister on Wednesday on a visit to a BUPi branch in Vila do Rei (Castelo Branco), during which an assessment of this territory recognition platform was presented.
According to data from the ministry of justice provided to Lusa news agency, around 90% of municipalities that do not have a land registry already participate in the BUPi, and in these 140 municipalities, over 570,000 rural properties have been identified using this platform.
Over 95,000 citizens have already contributed by identifying their land, free of charge, at BUPi offices, said Carla Mendonça, coordinator of the platform’s expansion mission (eBUPI).
“The intention is to fulfil the national plan of knowing the land,” said Mendonça, adding that eBUPi “is working in a regular and structured way with the municipalities, to train the more than 700 skilled technicians who provide support to citizens, with constant monitoring of productivity and execution, so that the objectives set for the project are met”.
The project coordinator also mentioned the work that has been developed with the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs (IRN), the Tax Authority (AT) and the Directorate General of Territory (DGT) in order to start attributing NIPs (Land Identification Numbers) in the first half of 2023.
According to the data, a mobile application was recently launched, available for free download from the App Store and Google Play Store, which allows technicians, citizens and other users to identify properties with the help of mobile phones or tablets, simply by going to the terrain and using the app.
During his visit, prime minister António Costa said that wealth must be reintroduced into the forest so that it ceases to be a threat to the country.
Costa reinforced the importance of registration in the valorisation of land, contemplating mechanisms such as renting, support for planting or rents to maintain the trees.
The head of the government stated that it was important to “get to the root of the problem” and thus respond to a structural issue, underlining that all forest areas that are properly treated present a very low percentage of fires and recalling the importance of knowing the territory.
In her turn, the justice minister stressed the fact that the processes of identification and registration of rural properties are free of charge, mentioning the tools that are available to owners to geo-reference land, with emphasis on the role of the BUPi.
“Only by knowing the land can we develop public policies for protection, specifically in the forestry area,” she concluded.