Portugal to invest 131 million euros in forest fire prevention
LISBON (AFP) Portugal will invest 131 million euros (178 million dollarss) in a new programme to prevent and fight fires that have been destroying tens of thousands of forest acres (hectares) every summer, Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes announced.
The plan includes purchase of six new heavy aircraft specially equipped to spray water, plus nine light and medium-sized helicopters for service with six heavy choppers already in service, forming special emergency intervention teams.
Speaking of an unprecedented financial commitment, Santana Lopes said late Wednesday: “The financial resources being provided for this programme will be almost four times that of 2004.”
Last year Portugal suffered catastrophic fires that claimed 20 lives, destroyed 424,900 hectares (nearly a million acres), and caused damage estimated at one billion euros.
By the end of October this year, forest blazes had destroyed 120,530 hectares.
New plans also include special new ground and airborne firefighting teams, forest video-surveillance systems and a unified command structure to prevent breakdowns in coordination that have occurred in the past.
A public awareness campaign, a forest investment fund and new traffic restrictions in forests considered most vulnerable in summer are also foreseen.