May 14, 2021

Climate change aggravates forest fires and storm disasters – La Provincia

Climate change aggravates forest fires and storm disasters - La Provincia


On the occasion of International Day of Forests, which is celebrated today throughout the world, the professional groups and associations linked to the care of the forests of the Canary Islands warn in a Manifesto of the danger that haunts the forest masses of the islands as a consequence of the climate change.

Global climate changes are occurring in Canary Islands important increases in temperatures, less precipitations and more stormy episodes, as well as a decrease of the trade-off regime and increase of calimas, says the Manifesto.

He adds that all this causes much more difficult conditions for certain types of vegetation and an increase in forest fires in the archipelago, as well as aggravating the ecological disasters of the autumn storms, which affect both vegetation and people and infrastructure.

The Manifesto also notes that climate change is changing the behavior of fire in forest fires, exceeding the capacity of prediction models and making it difficult to extinguish.

Remember that more than 36,000 hectares were destroyed during the great forest fires of 2007, which caused the greatest forest loss in recent history. He adds that other traumatic episodes, such as the Monteverde fire Garajonay (La Gomera) in 2012, the Great Forest Fires of 2013, which affected several islands at the same time, the fire of the summits of Gran Canaria of 2017, or the recent fire of Garafía, on La Palma, in mid-February 2019 , are dangerous antecedents that reveal the magnitude of the process of degradation reached by the ecosystems of the islands.

Therefore, experts warn: the islands face serious desertification risks that especially affect the common forest heritage.

They add that the current economic situation is decimating forest investments and focusing resources on extinction, totally forgetting prevention, which is the fundamental pillar of forest conservation: "The increase in technical means (aircraft, helicopters, qualified personnel, transmissions , etc.) will not be enough to prevent the next big forest fire, "say the experts.

Consequently, they propose to better manage the changes that forest systems are undergoing, increase their surface area, enhance their genetic diversity and the interactions that trees generate in ecosystems.

This strategy, in addition to improving biodiversity, reducing the risk of fire and increasing the environmental services provided by these ecosystems, would make forests a source of employment and wellbeing for the rural populations of the islands. And it would also allow to reverse the deforestation and recover a good part of the forest landscapes that the islands had before the European colonization.

Likewise, it would contribute significantly to improve the quality of life of the population and resilience to climate change, to enhance the tourist values ​​of the islands and to increase the environmental services provided by the mountains, valued at more than 600 million euros per year for all of the Canary Islands.

Concrete measures

The Manifesto concludes with an appeal to political parties to collect in their electoral programs a series of concrete measures that would help conserve forests and moderate the impact of climate change on the ecosystems of the islands.

Among these measures they demand the application of the forest cent and that the collection obtained by this slight tax on fuel is destined to reforestation, the prevention of forest fires and the fight against soil erosion.

They also demand compensation for forest owners for environmental services that these forest areas, estimated at 130,000 hectares throughout the archipelago, lend to society, such as soil protection, biodiversity, landscape, water, CO2 fixation, others.

Finally, they propose legislative developments that allow for a more transversal and participatory forest management, with incentives for forest owners and the rural population as payment for environmental services, as well as supporting the youth and social movements involved in the care of forests, to enhance the culture of love for them, as claimed by this world day of the forests of 2019, whose motto is 'Learn to love the forest!'.

The Manifesto is signed by PROFOR, the Association of forestry professionals of Spain in the Canary Islands, the official colleges of Forestry Engineers and Forest Technical Engineers and the Foresta Foundation, specialized in reforestation.

Likewise, a number of institutions involved in caring for the environment of the islands have joined the Manifesto, such as the Association of Selviculturists of the Canary Islands, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country of Gran Canaria (RSEAPGC), La Vinca, Ben Magec, Plant for The Planet, the UNESCO Center of Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria Climate Save and the Association for the defense of the Tree and landscape of Gran Canaria (Adapa).

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