PORTUGAL – Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, on Monday argued that what protects people from forest fires is not the helicopter that arrives to put out the fire, but territory and land that generate income and settle people.
“What truly protects people is not the helicopter that arrives to put out the fire. What truly protects people is to have a set of production on the ground that generates income, that keep people and that protect them at the time when we know that fire will come,” said Costa, who was speaking in Pampilhosa da Serra, at a ceremony to sign protocols for the first Integrated Landscape Management Areas (IPAG).
This perspective, he maintained, is reflected in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, in which of the 615 million earmarked for the forest, 10% is allocated to fire-fighting resources.
For Costa, initiatives such as the IPAG, which provide for the creation of fire break areas with other types of crops in areas of eucalyptus and pine trees will transform the territory.
“It is a sign to the country that we are not making investments for tomorrow, but investments that transform the future of our country,” he said.
According to Costa, the project allows the creation of a new landscape, generating more value for the area, pointing to the case of Pampilhosa da Serra that, besides seeing investments in the production of medronho (strawberry trees), is studying the possibility of producing wine on the banks of the river Zêzere.
In addition to the IPAG, Costa also highlighted a programme foreseen in the Plan which provides for an investment of €145 million in the development of bio-industries, in the areas of resin, textiles and footwear in forest areas and, at the same time, reduce the risk of fire.
“People only settle where there is income to live. This transformation is essential”, he said.
The ceremony was attended by several mayors of the 27 municipalities where the first 47 AIGP formalised today will be integrated, as well as the minister of the environment, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, and the secretary of state for Nature Conservation, Forests and Spatial Planning, João Paulo Catarino.