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Forest fires in Spain

It seems that in today's world more attention is paid to opinions or feelings than to facts, but the facts cannot be denied, and the data is clear and irrefutable. Spain, as well as the rest of Europe, is experiencing the worst heat wave in decades, due exclusively to global warming caused by human activity. This heat wave, together with a poor forest management record, have created the perfect conditions for forest fires to break out, which are becoming more intense and affecting larger areas of the territory. In addition, an insufficient endowment of means to fight them means that it is increasingly difficult to control these fires, resulting in great losses of biodiversity and, unfortunately, on occasions, loss of human life.


Photo: A helicopter works to extinguish the fire in the area of El Higuerón in Mijas (Málaga). Source: elindependiente.com


As if that were not enough, the vast majority of fires are caused directly by the action of people, either due to negligence or intentionally. This demonstrates a clear lack of awareness and appreciation on the part of the population towards the natural environment that surrounds us and the fragile and precarious conditions in which it is found. Forests that have been abandoned for years have a very high density of trees and are saturated with combustible material; firebreak strips that have not been maintained in optimum condition; forest access tracks to the mountains in poor condition; a long list of conditions that cause the problem to worsen exponentially.

Photo: A firebreak strip in a Spanish forest.


Having said this, on July 20, 2022, we saw on the news how a fire that had already devastated 14,000 hectares in the province of Zaragoza, had been caused by a company that was carrying out reforestation. As professionals in the sector, at Offset Trail we cannot understand how a company would carry out an activity of this type, in the middle of a heat wave, at the end of July, at four in the afternoon and ignoring the guidelines of the ministry. Worst of all is that the same company a month ago had caused another fire in the same place and carrying out the same activity.


Photo: various press headlines regarding the heat wave and fires of 2022. Source: El País, BBC and elDiario.


These events fueled the debate on what are the best measures to deal with the problem of climate change, questioning reforestation as a measure for building biodiversity. As of today, reforestation is the only measure accepted by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge to absorb and offset greenhouse gas emissions, but these reforestations should not be carried out as an activity that is merely It is carried out for the economic benefit of the company that executes them and for the facelift of the company that produces the emissions that it intends to absorb. Reforestation should be considered as a measure that primarily provides ecological and social benefits. It is time for the Spanish forests to be truly valued and for this a commitment and a change of attitude are necessary on the part of the political agents who are in charge of regulating their management. Planting trees indiscriminately is not an appropriate course of action if possible risks are not addressed at the time of reforestation and if the resulting forest masses are not going to be managed in the long term and there is a risk of losing them in large fires. forestry. Sustainable forest management is the only tool we have to ensure the preservation of forests and their biodiversity, and the sooner we begin to apply it effectively, the greater opportunity we will have to prevent large forest fires and thus preserve the ecological value of our mountains.

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