Portugal’s strategy to use goats as ‘low-cost firefighters’ has been featured in the prestigious American newspaper The New York Times.
“Portugal has scrambled to find solutions to wildfires that have ravaged the country in recent years. It has tested high-tech tools like drones and used satellites and aircraft to fight the fires. It has grappled with long-term policy changes to improve land management that could prevent them,” writes reporter Raphael Minder, before adding: “And then there is the goat.”
As the newspaper points out: “The absence of shepherds, goatherds and farmers has left forest lands overgrown, allowing fires to spread and burn faster. Steep slopes are out of reach for a tractor and are very costly to tend by hand, difficult in any case for an aging population.”
The solution “may lie with the humble goat, which feeds on the underbrush that fuels fires,” it adds.
NYT explains that the goat project “was started by a government forestry institute last year with a budget of just a few thousand euros.
“So far, it has enlisted 40 to 50 goatherds and shepherds across the country, with a combined livestock of 10,800 goats that graze across about 6,700 acres, in selected areas that are more vulnerable to fire,” it adds.