started this petition to
Prime minister A. Costa and minister of Agriculture L. Capoulas Santos
The recent huge fires in Portugal spread so fiercely due to the monoculture of eucalyptus and pine. Reforesting with native trees is essential for the future wellbeing of Portugal.
Os enormes incêndios recentes em
Portugal espalharam‐se descontroladamente devido às monoculturas de eucaliptos
e pinheiros bravos. Reflorestar Portugal com árvores autóctones é essencial
para o futuro de Portugal.
Please sign this petition to demand the Portuguese government immediately take action to secure national safety.
"Dear prime minister Antonio Costa and minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Urban Development, Luis Capoulas Santas,
We are all deeply shaken by the deaths and suffering from the recent horrific unnatural fires.
It's obvious that in the summer heat the monoculture eucalyptus and pine plantations with their high content of resin and volatile oil are like tinder waiting to burst into flames which all too easily combusts and burns too hot and fast to escape or control.
We cannot risk more deaths for the short‐term financial benefit of a few.
Portugal's income from visitors is greater than from these plantations. People will only continue to come if it is safe.
We the undersigned, call on you to immediately:
* ratify legislation calling for a ban on planting any more eucalyptus
* create a plan to reduce land used under pine and eucalyptus monoculture plantations including land reform to address the problem of abandoned and neglected lands
* promote and support the many national, local and community organisations who are actively returning the land to diverse native forest to benefit the land, people, local and national economy
* advise, encourage and support land owners to enable them to plant native trees, confident of a financial return at least equal to that of eucalyptus and pine.
In honour of those who died, may Portugal rise from the ashes of so much suffering and take its' place as a world leader in ethical ecological sustainable living for the benefit of all."
(more background information below)
Por favor assine esta petição para exigir ao governo português que tome ação
imediata para assegurar a segurança nacional.
"Caro primeiro ministro Antonio Costa and ministro da Agricultura, Floresta
e Desenvolvimento Urbano, Luis Capoulas
Estamos muito abalados pelas mortes e sofrimento ocorridos nos últimos
É óbvio que no verão as monoculturas de eucaliptos e pinheiros bravos, com o
seu alto teor de resina e óleos inflamáveis, incendeiam muito facilmente,
tornando o fogo muito dificil de controlar e a fuga mito difícil. Não podemos
arriscar mais mortes, para que apenas uma minoria possa beneficiar. O
rendimento de Portugal com o turismo é maior que o destas plantações. Os visitantes
só continuarão a vir se sentirem segurança.
Nós, os abaixo‐assinados pedimos para imediatamente:
* Legislar no sentido de banir ou continuar a plantar mais eucaliptos
* Criar um plano para reduzir a área de plantações de eucaliptos, incluindo
novas leis relativamente a terrenos abandonados ou negligenciados.
* Promover e apoiar as iniciativas
nacionais e locais, que estão a
reflorestar com espécies autóctones, de modo a beneficiar a natureza, pessoas,
localidades e economia nacional.
* Aconselhar, encorajar e apoiar os
donos das propriedades de modo a reflorestarem‐nas com espécies autóctones, com
o mesmo tipo de retorno do das plantações de eucaliptos e pinheiros bravos.
Em honra daqueles que morreram, possa Portugal erguer‐se das cinzas e tomar o
seu lugar como leader mundial em ecologia, ética e vida sustentável para o benefício de todos.“
Background information about the role of monocultures of eucalyptus and pine trees in forest fires:
The huge fires in Portugal in June this year were terrifying and not natural. The biggest ever recorded in the country, burning over 45,000 hectares, causing immeasurable suffering, killing over 60 people, injuring more than 200 and leaving homes, land and livelihoods destroyed. (75,000 hectares have burned this year at the time of writing),
Eucalyptus which is replacing the Maritime pine as the major pulp producing tree ‐ is a quick cash crop producing cellulose pulp for paper which accounts for only 1.7% of the national economy. Only the big cellulose companies and their shareholders make significant profits. Local people earn little and carry all the risk.
The dense eucalyptus and pine privately owned monoculture plantations covering over 51% of the forested areas (23% and 28% respectively) are quietly devastating the regions biodiversity and hydrological cycles in the following ways:
• The deep‐rooted eucalyptus drain the sub aquifers, springs and rivers as they are adapted to desert conditions and able to find and use every drop of water in the whole soil profile. This is why it grows unnaturally fast in Portugal producing short‐term profits ‐ but at a huge cost to the local and regional people.
The dropped leaves of eucalyptus release chemical compounds that inhibit the growth of other plants species leading to vastly reduced diversity of plants and animals. As eucalypts are not native to Europe they cannot provide habitat or food for many insect, animal and plants species leading ecologists to call eucalyptus plantations ‘living deserts’.
• The maritime pine trees are not native to interior Portugal. They acidify the soil with their needles and turn it hydrophobic (water repellent) meaning that the rain (outside of the prolonged winter rainfalls) simply runs off the soil.
• Eucalypts and pine trees do not release water from their leaves/needles (transpire) at the same rate as the native, broadleaf forests leading to less summer rainfall, a drier regional climate and higher daytime temperatures.
• In the summer heat the eucalyptus and pine forests behave like tinder waiting to burst into flames. With such high content of resin and volatile oil, these tree species all too easily combust and burn too hot and fast to escape or control. Australian firefighters call eucalyptus the ‘gasoline tree’ because it burns so fiercely.
Another fire risk factor is the amount of privately‐owned, neglected land in Portugal. Due to a number of social factors vast areas of land under pine or eucalyptus monoculture have simply been abandoned. The forests are unmanaged and over burdened with many unthinned trees of the same age leading to dangerous build‐up of flammable material. These lands need to be reclaimed and put under sustainable forest management so that they do not endanger more lives every summer.
Thank you for your support in making Portugal a safe and beautiful place to be in the summer for those of us who live here and for visitors.