Fire prevention and preservation of a green Portugal.

As you know, after the terrible fires of 2017,  some changes were started in Lisbon to prevent fires. Some nonsensical and sensible measures are taken and new laws are made. About the law about cleaning the land around your house we can wonder whether the insurance companies lobbies has done their job. But still, our house was spared because we had little large / high vegetation right around the house, and we decided, during the construction, not to take wooden windows, doors and roof, however  we like it much better.

By law now, you had to clean  until April 15th , but no fines are given until May 31st. The municipalities ensure compliance , and can be fined if they don’t.

Around your house over a distance of 5 meters, no trees and shrubs higher than 50cm can be planted. Between 5 – 50 meters there must be 4 meters between the crowns.

I would like to mention that my own terrain was reasonably clean (too big and too steep to have everything clean in 1 year). Despite that, our 4-hectare land is very black.

The “wild” vegetation of our terrain consists of different types of oak, cork oaks, hawthorn, modronho, black alders and willows (by the river) and of course the inevitable blackberries, broom, etc. Ornamental trees and fruit trees, including olive, stand on one of the few flat pieces of land near our house. Through years of experience we did not have trees and shrubs close to our house, but those years of experience have not been built up by “strange” and devastating fires such as the one of 15 October 2018.

After the fire, almost all oaks, cork oaks, hawthorn and modronho are now getting new leaves again, most of the pinetrees died. Some of the fruit trees have been” rescued” by growing on clean land, but the wind has blown the fire and heat over the river, to our land, so many have died. The olive tree is the toughest, if it does not get new leaves, it sprouts at least from the bottom of the trunk. If we want to have a green and fertile Portugal in the future, I plead for planting endemic vegetation, or at least trees that are environment friendly (not invasive species) and can survive a fire. I do not mean mimosa and eucalyptus.

There is a lot of fuss about the Anna Paulowa tree. From what I hear is that there exists 2 species. One for wood production, which, by genetic manipulation, does not get flowers and therefore does not produce seed, it puts all its energy into the growth, i e a soil exhauster like the eucalyptus, and there is a garden variety that does have the beautifull flowers, and so (aparently very much) seed. The last variant florish in this climate, so it can become a threat, just like the mimosa, for the indigenous species. Before anyone starts planting that tree, or promoting it, I think it’s advisable to inform youself well first …. If anyone has some more reliable information….please inform me.