Much of the wooded area that burned during the great forest fire is, a decade later, regenerating well
The tenth anniversary of the great forest fire of Andratx, Calvià and Estellencs
Ten years have passed since the great forest fire that on July 26, 2013, affected almost 2,500 hectares, mainly in the municipality of Andratx, but also in Estellencs and Calvià. 32 aerial means and more than 400 people were working on the extinguishing tasks for two weeks, until the fire was extinguished on August 13. The fire affected 858 hectares of wooded area (mainly pine trees, but also holm oaks, etc.), the rest being primarily scrubland or other shrub or treeless formations.
Once the fire was extinguished, restoration work began; the purpose of this work was to ensure safety for people and property, control and prevent erosion and the appearance of pests, regenerate vegetation cover in specific cases, protect or recover specific plant species, and raise awareness of self-protection and risk culture among the population. In addition, there were different initiatives of citizen participation, with more than 1,000 people carrying out collaborative tasks and 510,000 euros raised by voluntary economic contributions, which together with the budget provided by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Territory and also by the Ministry of the Environment, totalled 1,360,000 euros of funding.
In this sense, actions were carried out on about 30 hectares to ensure safety, in which trees at risk of falling on the main road network, on houses, infrastructures or areas of high public use were removed. As regards the prevention of erosion processes in the most vulnerable areas, work was carried out on some 300 hectares, processing the burnt woody debris to minimize the risk of erosion by rain and to generate a future contribution of organic matter to the soil affected by the fire.
According to Ana Torres, general director of Medi natural I Gestió Forestal, the “lesson learned” was that in a large forest fire like the one in Andratx, although the extinction phase is the immediate response, “the best strategy to fight large forest fires is always prevention”. For this reason, Torres points out, “It is essential to have previously worked in the forest management of vulnerable areas and in raising awareness of the risk culture in the population”.
In this sense, the general director points out that “with the current scenario of climate change, with summers of extreme drought and recurrent heat waves, more extensive, more intense and more dangerous fires are expected”, as the Forestry Management Service of the Conselleria points out.
Recovery of the wooded area
A decade later, approximately 70% of the affected wooded area (which was mainly covered with pine forest), shows a good natural regeneration, with variable densities depending on the area depending on the state at the time of the fire. Therefore, it is estimated that in a few more years we will be able to speak of mature forest.
On the other hand, the entire non-forested area, which occupies most of the burned area and recovered very quickly after the fire due to its regrowth capacity, is still a rather barren landscape, given the recurrence of large fires (much of this area was affected by the La Trapa fire in 1994). Reforestation in this area is very complex and difficult due to the presence of feral domestic goats, the complex orography and the high stony and rocky surface.
On the other hand, it is essential that the houses and infrastructures located in forest areas, such as some of those that were partially affected during the great fire, carry out the mandatory prevention and self-protection strips, in order to make them defensible and safe in case of forest fire.
We remind you that this is the time of maximum risk of forest fire, that it is totally forbidden to light fires in forest land and that you must consult daily the danger situation on the website alertafoc.caib.es.