Forestry Reforms fast-tracked

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 20-07-2017 13:48:00 · 8 Comments
Forestry Reforms fast-tracked

Last month’s massive fire in Pedrógão Grande, in which 64 people died, has seen forestry reforms leapfrog to the top of the government’s list of priorities, having been thrashed out in an overnight marathon meeting held by the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture on Tuesday and into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

As a result of the talks, from now on, among other new measures, the planting of eucalyptuses can only be done with prior approval from the State.
Thus far tacit agreement sufficed.
The Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture met on Tuesday at around 4pm to discuss the proposed bills put forward by the government, in a bid to achieve resolution before parliament breaks up for its customary annual summer holidays.
During the mammoth talks, which finished at around 7am the following morning, with an hour’s break for dinner, the majority of the bills proposed were approved and have been forwarded on to plenary for final and global approval.
Newspaper Diário de Notícias (DN) states forestry reform is a dossier that the Prime Minister gave “absolute priority” to, demanding parliamentary consensus, a stance backed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who said at the end of June that he wanted a series of reforms approved before parliament’s summer recess.
This push comes following the Pedrógão Grande fire, in central Portugal, which ignited on 17 June and saw 64 people perish and a further 200 injured, as well as causing extensive material damage.
On the table were four key proposals: to change the legal regime applicable to afforestation and reforestation actions; to create a Land Bank; to change the Forest Fire Defence System; and to create a simplified cadastral information system.

Within the first proposal, to change the legal regime applicable to afforestation and reforestation actions – one of the more controversial subjects on which there has been most disagreement among left-of-centre parties – the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture approved that “all forestry actions involving eucalyptus are subject to prior project design and authorisation by the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF)”, with the previously-required “tacit agreement” being dropped.
Within the scope of creating a simplified registry system, it was approved that “the procedure of identification, registration and listing of a building without a known owner comprises the following phases: a) Identification of the building without known owner; B) Publicising the building identified as having no known owner; C) Provisional registration and listing in the land registry of the building identified as having no known owner.”
Another seven bills regarding forestry reforms have already been approved in Parliament.
Earlier this week, Portugal’s Socialist government, in negotiations with the Left Block and the Communist Party - which form part of its support base in parliament – conceded the idea of including a phased reduction in the area on which eucalyptus is planted over the next five years, in its bill discussed on Tuesday.
According to Lusa News Agency, in the first year the legislation is in effect, the area assigned to new plantations of the species may be equivalent to the area taken out of circulation, in a ratio of one to one.
In the following year, the ratio would be just 0.9, falling over the next four years to 0.5.
“Despite the reduction in the area, production in terms of the national total may not diminish, given that it will be a matter of substituting less fertile land with terrain in areas with greater production potential”, a government official told Lusa.
The widespread planting of eucalyptus in recent decades is seen by many as a contributory factor to the increase in the area of forest destroyed by fires in recent years, along with the dispersed ownership of forested land in Portugal.
However, the species is favoured by the country’s large pulp and paper industry because it is fast-growing.
Almost half of Portugal’s forested area is blanketed with eucalyptus trees, and is possibly the most eucalyptus-dense country in Europe.
However, these trees are widely viewed as fire hazards as their oily leaves and bark are highly flammable.



Comments:

This is nowhere near enough of a change. There should be NO expansion of eucalypt planted. NO new plantations. No expansion. None. There should be phased reduction of the current plantations by at least the amounts shown in this article. It is a huge insult to the people who died in this fire that the government is allowing even greater dangers to be built up and doing little or nothing for proper forest managemnt and diversification of forests and wood crops. There ARE alternative trees that can provide a good income, that use less water, fewer nutrients, return deciduous leaves to the forest floor to improve the soil and also burn less easily. Why are they not being proposed and planted? The State owns plenty of land and should set the example by replanting these areas first as a demonstration of what can be done!

by Jude Irwin from Beiras on 24-07-2017 07:28:00

This is nowhere near enough of a change. There should be NO expansion of eucalypt planted. NO new plantations. No expansion. None. There should be phased reduction of the current plantations by at least the amounts shown in this article. It is a huge insult to the people who died in this fire that the government is allowing even greater dangers to be built up and doing little or nothing for proper forest managemnt and diversification of forests and wood crops. There ARE alternative trees that can provide a good income, that use less water, fewer nutrients, return deciduous leaves to the forest floor to improve the soil and also burn less easily. Why are they not being proposed and planted? The State owns plenty of land and should set the example by replanting these areas first as a demonstration of what can be done!

by Jude Irwin from Beiras on 24-07-2017 07:19:00

An even faster-growing, more productive and far more environment-friendly fibre crop for paper, pulp and building material is industrial hemp. Also, it is easy for small land-holders to grow. I do hope someone in the government is considering this amazing plant as an alternative to both eucalyptus and pine tree plantations.

by Hilary Venables from Beiras on 23-07-2017 11:23:00

Re; Snr. Ricardo from Other "eucalyptus roots are far reaching".

How deep is far reaching?

by Ronnie in the Beiras from Beiras on 21-07-2017 06:17:00

Dear Carrie,
We live in a village called RAMALHO NR VILA FACAIA,this place was like hell on earth when this fire started,there was no warning and when we tryed to call the emergency services NOTHING,my brother who was only yards away from the house got badly burned and is under a burns doctor that has been treating him every 3 days,it still hasnt healed and he will be left with a nasty scare.
Carrie if we had tryed to make a run for in the car we would not be here today,we feel that there should have been a WARNING SYSTEM in place that would have saved many people's lives as shear panic broke out and killed families in there cars and destroyed many homes including NEW ONES.
Carrie there are alot of agree british and for good reason they moved here for a new life,the forrestry have alot to answer for not keeping to the BY-LAWS that the government were suppose to inforce and havent,it does matter what tree are planted its how close they are to houses,there is no good in the government rushing through new laws now as the damage has already been done,and I hope that the Insurance companies make them pay for it,Im sure there is a Petition being drawn up on this matter.Regards Mrs Jefcoate

by Kathleen Jefcoate from Other on 21-07-2017 01:57:00

Hoshing tan

by Makawana Bhavesh Chhagan bhai from Other on 21-07-2017 10:03:00

Two things: to establish the ownership of land, why not start 'fake' building works on the land. I would guess at a 95% success rate of finding the owner.
Secondly, eucalyptus roots are far reaching and suck the ground water away. Most of the world is using less paper, not Portugal. Why not start a petition, online of course. D

by Ricardo from Other on 21-07-2017 09:37:00

Sounds like steps in the right direction if small ones. Now needs to be enforced.

by Hans Evers from Beiras on 21-07-2017 09:24:00
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