After the area was hit, in 2018, by the biggest forest fire in Europe that year, the priority is now the defense of the population centres located in the forest areas of ​​Monchique, the Algarve area most affected by forest fires over the last decades.

According to the mayor, Paulo Alves, the interventions, which focus on areas of high fire danger, aim to reconvert areas of bush, eucalyptus and pine through the planting of indigenous species, such as the strawberry tree, cork oak or citrus.

“That is the intention, to make housing environments safer and more resilient to fires”, he explained.

The first intervention, which has already been completed, was carried out at the Montinho site, covering an area of ​​21 hectares and six owners. Work is now underway in Portela da Serenada and Corchas, totalling 18 hectares and 21 owners.

Removing eucalyptus

In practice, the work aims to implement fuel management strips around population clusters, by removing, above all, eucalyptus and invasive shrubs, such as acacia, and then planting species that are more adapted to the Mediterranean climate.

As the head of the Rural Development division of the Câmara de Monchique, Sónia Martinho, explained to Lusa, in places where slopes are above 25%, terraces are being opened, that is, platforms where native species will also be planted, helping to decrease the propagation speed in case of fire.

“These trees, being autochthonous, are more adapted to our climate, which is dry, the Mediterranean climate. Cork oaks, on the other hand, have self-protection against fire, which is cork, and we can say that they are more adapted to this location and that they will also have more resilience to a fire”, she said.