The territory affected by the Pedrógão Grande fire is today marked by a sea of eucalyptus trees, many of them abandoned, and forestry engineer Paulo Pimenta de Castro warns of a “collapsing” landscape.
Eucalyptus and, in some areas, acacia, are dominant in the landscape affected by the great fire of June 2017, with many regenerating freely on land where a clear state of neglect is visible.
Although the management lanes are now more or less fulfilled on the main roads in the region, the same does not happen on secondary roads, and the marks of the fire still persist throughout the territory, with many burned trees persisting, standing, after four years.
For the forestry engineer and president of Acréscimo – Association for the Promotion of Forestry Investment, the territory “is in true collapse”, calling the vast sea of abandoned eucalyptus an “epidemic”.
Today, there is “a load of much greater risk” than there was in June 2017, given the combination of natural regeneration, increased abandonment of land and burnt material that persists in the land, told the Lusa Paulo Pimenta de Castro agency.
For the specialist, the last four years, when it comes to the forestry area, were marked by an “immobilism”.
One of the problems when you get older is that you lose expectations. I already had few expectations after the fires of 2003 and 2005, and also few in relation to 2017. To create expectations, the announcement of millions of euros for the territory is not enough. A technical body is needed to support farmers and landowners in changing the landscape“, he stressed.
According to Paulo Pimenta de Castro, the economic model of that region itself has to be changed, investing in cultures “that leave wealth in the regions”.
“I will not question from an environmental point of view [o investimento nos eucaliptos]. I put this from the investor’s point of view. What’s the idea of someone who spends money on replanting when they see an epidemic around them? It is not because it has a well-managed area that it escapes the fury of the fire,” he noted, recalling that pulps lost more than 10,000 hectares in 2017 in land that would have been well managed.
According to the specialist, the territory needs “an army on the ground” capable of providing technical and commercial support for intervention in the forest and a bet on other cultures.
“There has to be an integrated plan, but also an army that executes it on the ground, because we are talking about an aging population, with little appetite for change and without close monitoring, the tendency is to maintain inertia and inertia prevents others approach that territory,” said the president of Acréscimo.
The fire that broke out in the early afternoon of June 17, 2017, four years ago, in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande, district of Leiria, caused the death of 66 people and 253 wounded, seven of them serious, and destroyed nearly half a thousand of homes and 50 businesses.