New WWF report highlights the impact of recent fires in Portugal | WWF
New WWF report highlights the impact of recent fires in Portugal

Posted on 06 December 2017

Governments and forest managers must take urgent action to prevent further catastrophic fires.
Lisbon, 6 December - WWF and research institute Centro de Ecologia Aplicada (CEABN/ISA) today released a new report, Rural fires in Portugal: until when will the landscape burn?, which gives a picture of the recent fires in Portugal and presents a set of recommendations for governments, managers and forest owners to implement in the short and medium term.

The report shows that there has been a structural problem with regard to the forest and rural landscape in Portugal that has not been adequately addressed and resolved for decades. These problems include inadequate implementation of forestry and rural development policies to avoid depopulation and rural abandonment, as well irresponsible forest management at the landscape level. Combined with the impact of climate change, these issues have exacerbated forest fires in Portugal.

As a result, fires are not only a simple environmental problem but have become a national emergency, as evidenced by the tragic events of June and October, in which more than 100 people lost their lives. Rural fires are catastrophic, with very high economic and social costs, including the loss of human lives. It is estimated that losses from this year's fire alone exceeded 200 million Euros.

In line with WWF's global forest vision, which aims for a planet enriched by diverse and resilient forest landscapes benefitting people and contributing to mitigating the effects of climate change, the report presents a series of recommendations and actions to contribute to the sustainable development of forest and rural landscapes in Portugal, encouraging changes in behavior and influencing decisions. The report also highlights the need to address under-investment in prevention of fires.

"If these measures are not urgently taken, the Portuguese forest is condemned to a dark future: summers with wild fires so strong they will be impossible to control using traditional means of extinction, creating real national emergency situations that are costly economically, environmentally and socially, "says Rui Barreira, Forest Officer, WWF-Portugal.

For more information, contact:
Marta Barata - WWF Mediterrâneo - Portugal
Tel.: +351 917 114 651
Rui Barreira, WWF Mediterrâneo – Portugal
Tel.: +351 934 499 204
Burned cork oak landscape in Serra do Calderao, Portugal.