Campaign Change Legislation Forest Fire Prevention


On behalf of:

The Biotopnatura association and its campaign "The rights of trees",

The Platform in defense of trees, formed by a group of people from Can Carbonell especially sensitive to the defense of nature,

And advised by the forest engineer Marc Garfella.

By means of the present writing we want to explain our disagreement with some aspects of the law 5/2003, of 22 April, (and Decree 123/2005, of 14 June, which develops it), about prevention of 'forest fires. This legislation incorporates the urbanisations without immediate continuity with the urban plot, and in article 7, of Decree 123/2005, the interior plots are incorporated.

Our main disagreement is focused on its regulatory development and , especially in the application made by some county and municipal authorities.

We believe it is very necessary to do forestry work for fire prevention, as demonstrated by the devastating fires that have affected the territory and threaten to do so again every year, but we understand that this is not at odds with respectful forest management with the environment and the diversity of ecosystems.

Fire prevention should not be synonymous with leaving green spaces undeveloped.

We do not consider the criteria to be taken into account , according to this law, to carry out this fire prevention work, to be appropriate, professional or environmentally friendly.

Aspects of the legislative framework to be reviewed and modified

  • Guarantee the protection of certain species and spaces.

    Although the Law and the Decree do contemplate respecting a certain percentage of shrubs, to treat different areas of slope and take into account, when choosing trees and shrubs to be cut, their species and their origin. , with preference given to native and less dangerous species in the event of a fire, however:

    • Does not take into account the age of the tree.

    • It does not take into account the specific situation of the different ecosystems of each place

  • Change the criteria followed to clear the forest mass: The clearing criterion of the horizontal tree mass should be revised in order to replace it with vertical clearing pruning. In other words, we believe that it is important to move the distance between the herbaceous or tree layer and the canopies, to reduce the possibility of the fire rising towards the canopy, but not by separating the canopies, as these are very necessary to reduce the canopy. entry of light into the herbaceous layer, thus preventing the bushes from growing disproportionately. As light enters, the undergrowth grows, the forest mass increases, and the danger of fire increases.

  • Ensure bush islands: Keep the bush part away from the tops, but do not completely remove the undergrowth. The regulatory development says that up to a maximum percentage can be left, but it does not mark any minimum percentage to be left, so it is up to the city council and the professional who does it, the responsibility to choose. We believe that the legislation should ensure a minimum percentage of shrub layer. The survival of many plant and animal species depends on this ecosystem.

  • Decree 123/2005 applies the same criteria for the perimeter strip as for the interior plots of the urbanisations, without taking into account that there are relevant factors that advise a differentiated treatment.

  • Change the current interpretation of fire prevention legislation, which is beginning to be included in the concept of indoor plots, in private gardens. Built-up plots should not be included in this law.

  • Urban nuclei should not be included in this law either, as this would lead to the disappearance of green in cities and towns, when applying the law to public parks and gardens.

  • We call for forest fire prevention legislation to require that it be carried out by qualified personnel in order to carry out this type of forestry work, with knowledge of the species and their operation, and not just the operation of the machines.

  • We request that the execution of forestry work be communicated to apply the fire prevention law with a public sign that is hung in the areas dedicated to villages and housing developments for the communication of their work and activities, specifying the day and completion of work, and the company that will do it.

  • We ask that all work being done be signaled.

  • We ask that there be a forest engineer hired by the council or hired externally to monitor the correct execution of the law.

  • We ask you to change the protocol currently followed by the County Council when they detect any anomaly in a plot that includes a forestry engineer who monitors the proper application of the law:

  • Send a letter asking you to apply the law of fire prevention to your plot with the only information in a drawing where in a schematic and very simple way it specifies the criteria to follow. Each plot is different and cannot fall all the responsibility that involves the management and prevention of fires, in a simple drawing, or in the criteria of any person who offers to do this work even if he does not have the necessary knowledge. . We do not believe this is responsible or effective in managing forest fire prevention.

  • We ask a forestry engineer to specify which trees should be cut down, if necessary, and how to do it.

  • In this letter he tells you that in 30 days you will be inspected for the work done and that if it has not been executed you will be penalized. And if it was cut too much, is it also sanctioned or only when you didn't cut enough?

  • With this first letter, they also include a document to give permission if you want a brigade subcontracted by the council to do so at a very low price and made by unqualified personnel and not controlled by any council technician to verify that the work is following the criteria of the law, and that it is not following a criterion of forest exploitation.

  • It is essential that whoever does the work of applying the law of fire prevention (brigades contracted by the city council or private gardeners), and whether they are executed in public spaces, as private plots , the work carried out is controlled by a forestry engineer of the city council or subcontracted by him.

  • Possible risks in the green of Can Carbonell by the application of the law of prevention of forest fires:

    As a result of this legislative criterion and its shortcomings, we have an application of the law with:

  • Excessive trees removal

  • A priority of trees with larger trunk diameters.

  • An unqualified personnel who do not distinguish the different species, nor their ecological value, nor the technique necessary to make the correct cuts so that the trees heal properly.

  • An application of the law that seems to follow, therefore, more a criterion of use (wood extraction), than of fire prevention.

  • The legislation, moreover, although it does specify a special criterion in areas with a slope greater than 40%, where a technical report is required that establishes the criterion that best suits the situation and the place. , does not seem to be taken into account when legislation is implemented. Here at Can Carbonell we do not believe that any differentiation has been made according to the slope, when it is clear that this will have consequences in terms of soil erosion and consequent impoverishment of the same, the safety of existing roads and buildings.

  • Although the law does oblige to signal all work carried out in a public space, as is the case of forest fire prevention work, the forestry work carried out in Can Carbonell as a result of the application of the law of fire prevention, have not been in any case duly signaled.

  • Another aspect that we have observed, and that they have already begun to apply, and that worries us a lot, is that although in no legislation on fire prevention it speaks of the built plots, but only of plots the interiors, the interpretive files sent for information to the residents of Can Carbonell, and which can be downloaded from the website of the county council or the Generalitat, include a file with a plot built and closed perimeter in the form of 'example because we see how prevention work should be done. We believe that with this there is a will to make believe that the law is applicable to all the plots of the urbanization and this is not justifiable, since it is applicable to the perimeter strip and to the unbuilt plots. Under no circumstances on built-up plots.

  • We enclose with this letter a report signed by a Forest Engineer which guarantees that the work carried out in Can Carbonell has strong shortcomings and that they follow more a criterion of forest exploitation, than for the prevention of forest fires.

    Given the situation posed by this legislation and its application, we specify the most relevant points of our lawsuit:

  • That the city council ask the fire prevention department of the agriculture department to make a more sustainable application of fire prevention legislation adjusted to the needs of the site, and to rely more on the vertical pruning work, not horizontal pruning to separate herbaceous layers and canopies from trees, rather than relying on canopy separation.

  • To ask our city council to ask for advice from a forestry engineer, proposing us to Marc Garfella, who has already worked together with other councils to achieve this goal.

  • There are many councils, such as L'Escala, or Roses ..., which have asked for an application of the law more adapted to the situation, and have succeeded because the law of 2003 allows the interpretation of an engineer.

    The residents' association of Santa Coloma de Farners, the campsites of Torroella de Montgrí, among others, have achieved a softer application of the law, and more adapted to the needs of the place.

    We therefore claim that:

  • Our city council joins the councils that care about their green, and that call for an application of the law, DOGC 3879_8.5.2003, and Decree 123/2005, different and based on the criteria of a forest engineer which studies the specific case of each forest, as did the engineer Marc Garfella, at the request of other municipalities.

  • That a different management is applied to the strip than to the interior plots, and that it is not applied to the built plots.

  • That the different ecosystems and needs of each place are taken into account.

  • That a forest engineer carry out a study to ensure that all work, in public and private areas, is well managed, with fire prevention criteria that do not ignore the conservation needs, and that above all are not for forestry use.

  • That the city council communicates to the board of the association of each place and if it exists in the commission in charge of safeguarding the trees of the urbanization (in the case of Can Carbonell if it exists), all the information on fire prevention work (dates, company that will carry out fire prevention tasks and places where this work will be done).

  • We also want it to be posted on the information desk of towns and housing developments. We want to know that the work that is being done is done legally and that not everyone is looking for firewood, cork, heather, pine cones, or whatever.

  • Properly signposting forestry work when it is being done.

  • That it is qualified personnel, who do the forestry work, and this is not just knowing how to use a chainsaw and a brushcutter. The person who cuts must know the species, their state, their age, their protection, if it is a native or invasive species, the shrubs they must leave, which species increase the risk of fire, which species support the passage of fire, how to cut properly to minimize the impact on the health of the tree or shrub ...

  • Have the council monitor how things are going, both during and after work.

  • In short, we want things to be done well, and this requires professionalism, and good communication between the city council and its neighbors