“The use of well prescribed, well thought out controlled fires is fundamental to be able to stop wildfires, even more so than fuel management strips next to houses and streets,” the director of Zero, Paulo Lucas, declared to Lusa.

The environmentalist considers the efficacy of fuel management strips for fighting fires to still not be clear, as well as their economic and environmental cost since the country relies mainly on mechanical means – carbon dioxide dispensers – to implement these strips.

“We use very little controlled fire, which is the use of fire to create gaps in fuel sources in the landscape, effectively stopping the fire from spreading so easily,” he advocated.

This practice, he added, besides being “more effective” and “cheaper,” allowing resources to be shifted to other investments, like “the planting of more fire-resistant species, autochthonous species,” which is needed in vast parts of the land.

Paulo Lucas also sees with concern the issue of ignition control, stressing that Portugal has a problem with misuse of fire and inadequate behaviours around it.

“We have a behaviour problem that needs to be fixed and we don’t see politicians acting in that regard. The excess of ignitions, on a day with many wildfires, translates into a grave management problem. The measures have to be concentrated. If they’re scattered, the fire can get out of control,” he affirmed, adding that “most of the big wildfires are related to how the means to fight them.”