Tenerife now begins, after the stabilization of the fire, a race against the clock to try to avoid soil erosion with the arrival of the first autumn rains and save the organic matter that accumulates on the surface , which will allow the seeds to germinate and the plants that remain alive after the fire have passed. This is indicated by Pascual Gil, who was responsible for 20 years of restoration work in Tenerife after the fires and one of the authors of the methodological guide designed in 2007 in the Canary Islands and which establishes the steps to be taken after the fire has passed. Currently, Gil is the director-conservator of Timanfaya National Park.
As he explains, because on the islands the rains are often torrential, it is necessary to act quickly to prevent the water from the burnt and devoid of vegetation on the slope areas from dragging the organic matter, instead of percolating and allowing them to germinate the roots that are still alive. "If you don't work quickly, the humus will run downhill and you will lose a lot of plant soil that has the necessary nutrients for plants to grow", he says.
For this reason, as he points out, during the two months before the rains, two types of actions must be taken. The first, which is called the fajinas, consists of the installation of transverse branches on the ground and which, like micro-basins, allow water to be retained and the seed bank that has resisted the fire to germinate. "If this soil goes away, the degradation of the ecosystem will be great", he indicates.
In addition, almost in parallel it is necessary to undertake "reception works" in these arboreal areas where there are specimens with the ability to regrow. As Gil explains, the luck of the vegetation of the Canary Islands, of the Macaronesian type, is that it is adapted to fire and has the ability to regrow after fires and even eruptions. "Depending on the species and the degree of fire damage, many cups will regrow, but others need to be cut from the stump so that they regrow", he says. The "short recepé" allow the regrowth of species such as Canary holly, heather and beech, among others.
After these first tasks that will be undertaken immediately will come a restoration and recovery of biodiversity, which will last at least ten years. As Gil remembers, during the 2007 fire in the north of Tenerife and which affected 15,000 hectares of ten municipalities between Los Realejos and Guía de Isora, the work was extended for six years at a cost of more than 18 million euros . This time, taking into account the high perimeter of 90 kilometers, it will take at least a decade to recover what has been lost. In terms of investment, the disaster zone declaration will help cover an investment that will be much higher.
"Now we need to design, plan, project and execute the restoration plan, and this takes time, because each piece of mountain is different and the condition also varies from one area to another", says Gil, who says that now they will begin work to design a map with the types of ecosystem there by area, the effect the fire has had and the risk of erosion on the slope. "With this photo, you can start defining and prioritizing actions," says this restoration expert, who acknowledges the arduous work of the forestry teams. "With the glasses still from the fire and the soot in their eyes they are already working on the restoration", he points out.
This fire has burned more than 2,000 hectares of areas that were restored over the past 30 years, after the previous fire in this area in 1995. Gil, who was in charge of this work, indicates that they have burned repopulations of laurisilva which, after three decades, were already more than 15 meters high and 20 meters in diameter. "We need to work to recover it again", indicates this expert, who points out that, despite the ability to re-emerge, the fire has caused a great loss of biodiversity that will take "a long time" to recover.