The fire that broke out on Saturday in the municipality of
Covilhã is still active today and has already consumed about 10,000 hectares,
which are also part of the PNSE, an area of 89,000 hectares that covers
territories of the municipalities of Celorico da Beira, Covilhã, Gouveia,
Guarda, Manteigas and Seia.
It is this Natural Park that, Domingos Patacho told Lusa, is
being significantly affected by the flames, which have essentially been
consuming maritime pine, an indigenous species.
“The first lesson of this fire is that we have to have more
compartmentalised areas, more hardwoods are needed, such as beech trees, which
in Manteigas were less affected by fire and which will therefore be able to
regenerate more easily”, said the association leader.
Maritime pine, a resinous tree planted in large quantities in the Serra during the Estado Novo (in 1938) to stop erosion, but it burns more easily..
It is these trees that, he said, will take decades to
repopulate the PNSE area. But he adds that the yew forests, rare in Portugal,
have so far been spared from the flames, which have not reached the Zêzere
With the fire continuing to consume the Park, now also
affecting areas of pastures and agriculture, Domingos Patacho warns that this
will not only be harmful to the cheese production but also to the honey.
“Part of the areas of the Park that are undergrowth can
regenerate. But we are not talking about 10, or 100 hectares. We are talking
about thousands of hectares, of habitats on which many species of animals
depend, the pollinating insects, the mountain gecko… all this works in a
chain”, he said.
In the view of the Quercus leader, the most worrying
consequence of the fire are the steep slopes of the Zêzere Valley, now without
trees and subject to erosion when it rains, as has happened in the past.
In the coming months, he argued, emergency management
measures should be in place to contain erosion.