Abandonment of the interior?

«The violence of the fire has been followed by the violence of statistical language and silence, only broken by the outrageous optimism of Mr. Minister José Luís Carneiro »

Three months have passed since the fire that destroyed part of the parish of São Marcos da Serra, in the municipality of Silves, integrated in the Special Protection Zone of the Natura 2000 Network. 1.321 from agricultural, 903 from bush.

These are the official information that can be accessed about the fire, as it relates to:
– Origin of the fire? It is not known.
– Calculation of losses? It is not known.
– Emergency measures? They don't know each other.
– Measures to stabilize the land and clean up water lines? They don't know each other.
– Future measures for forest resilience and village protection? They don't know each other.

The violence of the fire has been followed by the violence of statistical language and silence, only broken by the outrageous optimism of Mr. Minister José Luís Carneiro.

This Monday came the Faro congratulate themselves on the “great effectiveness and efficiency in the use of means” in fighting fires and affirm that, even so, given the size of the fires that broke out in Gambelas and São Marcos da Serra, these are part of the set that “at the level of are being evaluated, to try to understand what happened, with a view to improving and learning from them.” (Algarve had 72% less burned area than in 2021 and excelled in «effectiveness», to read here at Sul Informação).

In fact, tragedy can always have a positive side, especially for those who do not experience it directly. And fires are a prodigious source of knowledge, as the report on the 2017 fires prepared by the Independent Technical Commission has already shown, in an exhaustive and enlightening way (read here e here), where nothing was left unsaid or understood.

Mr. Minister, if I may, here's this suggestion for reading and, by the way, with regard to efficiency and effectiveness, the reading the latest ICNF report, which concludes that “the year 2022 presents, until the 15th of October, the 4th lowest value in number of fires and the 5th highest value of burned area, since 2012”.

But let's be fair: this insensitivity is not alien to us.

Let’s look at the differences: in Pombal, the City Council put a multidisciplinary team on the ground to monitor and survey the damages (read: Chamber surveys fire damage).

The Terras de Sicó Development Association, which brings together the Municipalities of Alvaiázere, Ansião, Condeixa-a-Nova, Penela, Pombal and Soure, immediately assumed the commitment “to demand urgent measures that minimize the patrimonial and economic losses suffered by the populations and fabric business.”, immediately requesting an audience with the Minister of Agriculture and Food and another with the Minister of Territorial Cohesion (read: Terras de Sicó wants support to deal with the damage caused by the fires).

The fire in Serra da Estrela, which affected several municipalities, led to the declaration of a calamity situation for the territory, and news about funds to be applied until June 2023, government meetings with the local authorities, measures for the municipalities, companies and families affected, emergency support for the territory, support for small farmers, who, having no registered activity, took income from the cultivation of their land and will receive 1153 euros per family (read: Serra da Estrela will receive almost half of the 200 million approved by the Government). I hope they all come true.

And around here? Who in the Algarve made such concerns or commitments? Who took over the defense and care of the victims of the fires? Who is outlining the territory recovery plan, in articulation with the owners and entities that intervene in the territory?

They will tell me: but support is in progress.

There are and we have them disclosed. On August 19 (Friday), the Municipality of Silves announced the existence of applications, to be carried out digitally, for extraordinary support to breeders of bovine, sheep, goat and equine species affected by rural fires. These applications closed on August 24 (following Wednesday).

Three, it was three working days. Even if we were talking about a framework for full access and digital literacy, such a measure could ever have the ambition to reach everyone.

On 23 September, applications to support the reconstitution or replacement of the productive potential of damaged farms, corresponding to animals, plantations, machinery, equipment, warehouses and other constructions to support agricultural activity, which will end on November 22nd (more information here: Beneficiary Desk/PDR 2020).

I ask: which public institutions are on the ground to publicize, clarify and support the realization of these candidacies?

For September, a meeting of the Algarve Regional Directorate of Agriculture with the owners and interested parties was promised, which… has not yet happened.

Abandonment of the interior?

I leave it, yes, but not for those who belong to the earth and love its soil and plant their roots there, unshakable, even when under orders to withdraw, even when they are forced to make the ashes the only fertilizer of the betrayed and mourning earth. .



Author: Patricia de Jesus Palma is nof São Marcos da Serra and coordinator of the Rio Arade project: Boião-Azilheira Fontes Route – QRER