Having affected important protected areas, including many national parks, this summer’s wildfires that scorched almost 150,000 hectares, revealed the difficulties that the Spanish Fire Brigade is facing due to the serious budget cuts.
Important woodland areas, including parts of the national parks of Garajonay in Canary Islands and Cabañeros National Park in Central Spain, were lost to the flames.
According to reports and an announcement by WWF Spain, the Fire Brigade was called to combat unprecedented wildfires with seriously reduced personnel,
In Valencia, a region that was severely ravaged by the flames, the firefighting budget was reduced by €15 m., resulting in the loss of 700 firefighting jobs and three aircrafts.
As reported by Euractiv, “Poor forest management and lack of coordination between regional and state forestry policies in the last years have influence on the risk of fire,” stated WWF Spain. “The same occurs in natural protected areas. Only 9% of [EU] Natura 2000 areas have a management plan.”
Extreme weather conditions, caused by climate change, declining forest management and now the austerity imposed on forestry and fire fighting systems seem to combine perfectly in a flammable mix for Mediterranean forests (see previous newsbite). According to the European Forest Fire Information System extreme or high risk of wildfires extend from most of Spain, Italy, all of Greece and the western Balkans, Hungary and nearly all of Turkey.