Wildfire prevention: almost 14,000 areas “haven’t been cleared”

Forestry owners federation wants time limit extended

With the deadline for people to have ‘prepared their land’ ahead of the wildfire ‘season’ just six days away, GNR police have reportedly identified 13,949 places where mandatory clean-ups have not taken place.

The federation of forest owners wants the deadline extended to mid-May, explaining that in many cases work hasn’t been able to go ahead because of ‘fire risk alerts’ and the extremely dry weather.

This Catch-22 has been presented by Luís Damas of FNAPF, the national federation of forest owners associations.

He tells Lusa that on top of the fact that his members are prevented from carrying out work because of the hot weather/ fire risks in doing so, there is also a “great shortage of labour” available to carry out clearance works “at a time when prices have also increased, reflecting labour costs and other factors, like fuel prices”.

“There are many people who come to us who have sapper teams and contractors booked (to carry out land clearance) but who have to stay on a waiting list” because there is “no capacity to do everything”, he told Lusa.

“The April 30 deadline (for work to be completed) will not be feasible”, he warns – hence the request for an extension.

Even so, it is debatable that a two-week extension could see 13, 949 situations of non-compliance dealt with.

According to Lusa, the number represents an increase on “at risk” sites identified in 2022 (10,989).

As things stand today, from May 1 (Monday week), the GNR’s enforcement phase will come into effect, meaning agents will be able to pass fines to owners who have not complied with clearance rules. These fines can reach €5,000 for individuals, or €25,000 for legal entities.

Private owners are also bound to ensure ‘fuel management strips against fires’ around their homes and sundry buildings, and a strip of 100 metres around settlements, camping parks and industrial areas. 

“If owners do not comply, municipal councils will ensure, as of May 1, that all fuel management works are carried out, but owners will have to allow access to their land, and pay the costs involved, adds Lusa.

Source material: LUSA