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Portugal burning


moon
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Hi chaps. Great holiday, muito obrigado, great tan and got to check out some great beaches. Got cut off by the full moon tide at one point and had to scale a cliff to escape. Very exciting stuff. I'll go back for my socks next year. :lol:

 

Didn't see a drop of rain and temps. topped 100F several times. Excellent for beach-bums but the situation inland is desperate. Fires have been raging through the forests for weeks and the damage is severe and extensive. Global warming gets much of the blame, locally, but the problem is exacerbated by social trends too. According to my taxi-driver, central and mountainous areas are being depleted of populations by the attractions of the cities. Consequently, the time-honoured necessities of bush-clearing go unheeded and forest floors are tinder-boxes.

I didn't see any fires myself except from the 'plane leaving Lisbon. There is a thick sheet of smoke hanging motionless across the inland areas, all the way to the horizon. I could see the licks of flame through the occasional break.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4172472.stm

 

Still, nice to be back. Unfortunately, it's raining.

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Still, nice to be back. Unfortunately, it's raining.

Same here. Well it has stopped for the time being.

 

Shocking seeing the news about these wild fires. They are totally out of control, I really hope they get sroted. Hopefully see the end of them asap!

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Welcome back Moon... :)

 

It seems the fires only started when i came back, like a few days later or so..

 

But, when i went to the summit of Monchique the landscape was incredibly dry, and it only seemed a matter of time before the whole place would be alight..

 

Shame really, i hope Monchique isn't alight, but my guess is it probably is .. However, the Algarve's never mentioned as being a fire hot spot..

 

I hear Southern Spains alight aswell, massive bush fires there at the mo..

 

:(

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Yep....

 

Really though, there isn't much as pleasant as a month long inundation of camp-fire smell, a night skyline that are ribbons of red in every direction. I have a couple friends that have lost their homes, but I do not feel terribly sorry for them because they never did what they were supposed to do to prevent it.

 

BTW, good to have you back Moon! Now I have someone to debate with again!

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BTW, good to have you back Moon! Now I have someone to debate with again!

That's great news, FB. Who is it ? :lol:

 

 

No pics, jazzo. I'm still getting fan mail from last year. :lol:

 

Cheers, angela and shogs. Good to be back. :)

Edited by moon
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Samuel Infante of the Portuguese environmental group Castelle Branco told BBC television that poor forest management had contributed to the problem.

 

He said more mixed forests were needed, as "planting different types of tree would help prevent fires".

 

I find that to be an interesting statement. Differnent kinds of trees preventing fire? I suppose a conglomerate canopy type could inhibit early stage fire by preventing it from crowning as quickly, but once it does you have pretty much had it from a supression standpoint.

 

As I understand it their problem is the same as in the western US- suppression of the normal fire regime and the build up of flamable understructure. We have had it much worse in the US for the last few years, but hopefully we have burned out most of the problem areas by now.

 

As my buddy from Portugal describes the landscape a controlled-burn systems would probably NOT work safely, but they will have to do something.

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Most of the Portuguese forests are predominantly pine and flammable. There is a trend towards replacing the pine with a form of less-flammable eucalyptus, but I don't know what species that would be. Aussie eucalyptus is highly flammable and requires periodic burning in order to germinate, I believe.

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Im suprised the environmentalists haven't twigged on to to the whole "invasive species" end of that proposal and started complaining.

 

Our experiences with non-native flora in the US here has shown us that while it may seem a good idea at the start, introducing new plants often has unforseen consequences that aren't desired; zum beispiele: Kudzu from China on the east coast is a voracious weed that chokes out native vegetation that animals need, likewise with knapweed in the northwest which was not specificially introduced with the intention of benefit, but none the less has taken over from native grasses and forbes that all but goats and donkeys refuse to eat.

 

Fire is actually a healthy part of an ecosystem and for pines and junipers in particular because it aides in the germination of the seed cones. You just gotta get the people out of the way before a major burn comes through and make sure that you keep reqular check on leaf litter with controlled burns so that they don't get out of hand and cause severe damage.

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Even if it is indigenous, I think it would be difficult to justify artificially creating such forests from an ecological standpoint. The ecosystems involved are very complex and simply replacing one species of tree with another would likely have far reaching consequences.

 

One of the hazards in forest management is overmanagement I think. The natural processes often are not pleasing to man, but we are challenged, to say the least, to do "better" than nature.

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The areas of forest which I saw had been replanted with eucalyptus had been replanted in strips. It might be that those areas were simply replacements for the pine which had been logged or it might be that they have a design for eucalyptus firebreaks. As I said though, I'm not aware of any eucalyptus which doesn't burn. Perhaps it's a matter of degree.

 

I heard yesterday that the fires near Coimbra crossed a four-lane highway as if it wasn't there. If eucalyptus planting is intended as firebreaks then the breaks will have to be extensive.

 

The Portuguese have managed their natural forests very well in the past. They are still pretty much intact, unlike the UK wherein all that remains are isolated pockets. Portugal is heavily wooded all over.

Edited by moon
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