Again…Fires in Madeira!

Another August with fires on the mountains, threatening people’s houses, goods and animals, burning forest, destroying landscapes and endangering all habitats… It is sad to watch the mountain burning above Funchal and to think that it could have been avoid if man did not destroy the native forest and if he did not introduced exotic species of plants that rely on fire to reproduce or to make room for new growth. But, as some say, there are no IFs in life…

The South of Madeira is covered by Eucalyptus Pines and Acacias, all introduced species that take over the native forest, the Laurel Forest, and work like a fuse when fire is around.

This weeks fires, which started mainly at dawn on the 16th of August, have burnt a big extension of this exotic forest just above Funchal city and although this kind of habitat does not attract many bird species, it certainly affected some.

The problem now is that the soil on these mountains is unstable without any vegetation to retain it and, still with the 2010 floods in our memory, it is scary to think that something even worst can happen if it rains like it did on the 20th of February that year…

Unfortunately Madeira’s forestry board keeps the theory that pines should be planted first to prepare the soil for the native plants… The problem is that the native species of the Lauraceae family never get the chance to be planted as the fires always come first…

A big part of the forest that burnt this year is privately owned and now that the regional government announced that it will give financial support to the owners of these lands with subsidies up to 100% of the investment we believe Eucalyptus will again be planted as these still have commercial value as the native forest (Laurel forest) does not.

All this should be rethought and studied very well in order to avoid so much loss.

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