Better vegetation management could help prevent forest fires

August 14, 2006

Brussels, 11 Aug 2006

As Spain and Portugal battle wildfires which have already razed thousands of hectares of forest to the ground, a researcher has called for better vegetation management to help prevent the spread of future fires.

Francisco Valle Tendero is Professor of Botany at the University of Granada in Spain. He has been working for years on using vegetation management to prevent large forest fires. He notes that a major factor in the spread of the fires is the dense forestation of just one species.

According to Professor Valle, the solution is to thin out the vegetation and introduce a range of Mediterranean species, which can help to slow down fires. Unfortunately, implementing this solution costs money.

Another problem identified by Professor Valle is the abandonment of traditional fire prevention measures, such as building fire lanes and mountain cleaning. He said these should be restored but with a modern twist; in the past mountain cleaning was often carried out carelessly and resulted in the loss of vegetation of high ecological value.

Finally, he calls for better environmental education, to raise citizens' awareness of the importance of good forest management.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2006
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