Forest fires are said to be extinguished in winter. But this is only true if forests are cared for and managed properly, which is unusual because it is unbearable for most homeowners. Having a forest today is more of a burden than a fortune.
The effects of climate change have a direct impact on forests. It rains less, spring is confused with summer and autumn is confused with winter. With thirsty trees and an impassable undergrowth, the forests become a potential powder keg. Forest fires are part of the landscape in our Mediterranean climate, but experts point out that the power of the fire is increasing and that in addition to having the most modern means of extinction it is essential to apply a prevention strategy that passes for forest management.
The head of the GRAF of the Generalitat Fire Brigade, Marc Castellnou, a renowned expert in the field, explained in a recent interview that the real solution to fight forest fires, as well as material and personal resources, is to revitalize mountain areas facilitating the creation of a rural economy on the basis of the rational exploitation of forests. In our country, talking about cutting down trees sounds sacrilegious, but we forget that the forest mass has not stopped growing in Catalonia due to the abandonment of many arable lands. Since the beginning of the century, the surface of Catalan forests has gone from occupying 59% of the entire territory to 64%. Our lack of forest culture does not allow us to understand that, often, the best way to take care of a forest and protect it from fires is to manage it well, cutting down some trees and making a rational use, according to technical management plans.
Despite our potential, the lack of incentives to manage forests leads us to the absurdity of having to import timber from outside, especially from France, where there is a well-established forestry tradition. Unfortunately, in mountain areas, money is being lost today with agriculture, extensive livestock and the timber industry, but this situation must be reversed because, precisely, these sectors must be the lever of change to combat the Empty Catalonia. Few argue that recurring millionaire aid is being given to strategic industrial sectors such as the automobile, which are key to the economy. But the activity linked to the care and maintenance of the territory is equally essential and deserves, inexcusably, that more resources be dedicated to it. Measures such as tax breaks, reductions in social security contributions, support for young entrepreneurs, simplifying the suffocating bureaucracy or ensuring fiber-optic connectivity can be an engine for reactivation.
The primary sector is in free fall. There are fewer and fewer farmers left and they are bigger, but their problems often go unnoticed and rarely fit the news, and they are too few to tip electoral majorities. As with health, we will only understand how important and necessary farmers and ranchers are to a country when we do not have them. If it is not remedied, the day it arrives we will regret the serious mistake made over the years, leaving much of the territory to its fate.
It is urgent to place at the top of the political agenda a determined strategy, with own resources, state and European, to promote the rural economy, rationally managing the resources of the territory, without falling into the caricature of believing that those who live in the mountains they will already make a living turning the farmhouse into a rural tourism house. It is necessary to recover crop fields that have been populated with trees for their abandonment, which will be effective firewalls, it is necessary to recover the herds to keep the forests cleaner and it is necessary to use the wood following technical forest management plans, giving oxygen to the industry. wood and biomass. At the same time, it is necessary to promote the consumption of local products to help farmers and ranchers.
Neglecting the territory is a luxury we cannot afford. As long as the trees don’t let us see the forest, we will continue to lament that there are more acres burned and more villages abandoned believing it is a fatality that has no solution.