Land-cleaning campaign underway once more

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 21-02-2019 09:51:00 · 2 Comments
Land-cleaning campaign underway once more

With just a few weeks left until the deadline, Portugal’s GNR police force have this week launched a nationwide drive to encourage property-owners to comply with their legal obligation to clean their land before 15 March, as part of preventative measures against wildfires.

The much-debated land-cleaning deadline was introduced last year, following catastrophic wildfires in central Portugal in 2017, in which at least 66 people perished.

Last year – the first year of the deadline’s implementation – the time limit was extended until the end of May, by decree of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, after the majority of land-owners struggled to clean their properties in time.

The law stipulates that in order to manage wildfire fuel, all land-owners with individual properties must clean a 50-metre border around the building, ridding it of combustibles such as grass, shrubbery, litter and debris, as well as thinning out vegetation and restricting the proximity and height of trees, among other requirements.

Clusters of houses, such as villages, require a 100-metre border. Non-compliant land-owners face fines that range from €280 to €120,000.

The GNR’s ‘Safe Forest 2019’ campaign was launched on Monday and will be rolled out nationally.

It aims to “warn the population as to the need for cleaning vegetation from around the buildings”, and will see officers patrolling their local areas to “raise awareness, supervise, monitor and combat rural fires”.

The year-long operation runs until 6 December 2019, in phases, and counts on the support of local councils, fire-fighters, forest wardens and authorities including the ICNF Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation, and the ANPC National Civil Protection Association.

In a statement, the GNR said ‘Operation Safe Forest 2019’ “integrates several phases, from the planning and implementation of awareness-raising and enforcement actions in the fields of fuel management, to reinforcing patrols and surveillance to prevent risky behaviour, as well as detecting and combating fires with the purpose of guaranteeing the safety of populations and their heritage and safeguarding the national forest fabric”.

GNR officers will be out and about, mapping local areas with a view to identifying and notifying land-owners who need to clean their land.

Speaking to the media at the launch of the operation in Chaves, Northern Portugal, on Tuesday, Chaves GNR Captain Bruno Antunes said the objective is not to “issue fines” but “to get people cleaning”.

National crime prevention and awareness association Safe Communities Portugal ( provides updated government information in English on all aspects relating to land cleaning and fire prevention, to help citizens comply with their duties.

David Thomas, founder of Safe Communities Portugal, told The Portugal News: “It is important that land-owners do clean their land as by undertaking this it helps protect their property and their families”.

He explained that by creating a “defensible space” around properties, fires are most likely to reduce in intensity and less likely to reach homes.

A dedicated government hotline – 808 200 520 – is also available for queries on land-cleaning


Are there any laws to prevent forests being too close to roads in non residential areas? From what I recall a high proportion of the civilians who died in the 2017 fires died in their cars trying to escape due to being caught up by fire due to this situation.

by John Stavers from Lisbon on 22-02-2019 12:08:00

It would be helpful if the link for Safe Communities Portugal went straight to the subject information.
I have tried to find the land cleaning info on the site without success. Where is it please.

by Rob Young from Beiras on 22-02-2019 09:12:00
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