Expatica news

National tree purge ordered by Government

forrestPrivate landowners have until March 15th next year to clean scrubland and trees from around isolated properties, along roadsides and from the edge of villages. If landowners fail to do so, councils will take on the work which will have to be finished before the end of May.

The Secretary of State for Civil Protection, José Artur Neves, acknowledged today in the debate on the 2018 State Budget that there is “immense amount of work to be done” to prepare the country for next year’s fire season, saying that “prevention will help instill a feeling of security for country folk, a feeling that has been absent until now.”

“To this end, we want private landowners to attend to all the area surrounding villages, isolated houses, business parks and even along roadsides and clear them all of combustible scrub and trees such as eucalyptus, pine, shrubs and arbutus,” said the Secretary of State who did not point out that much of this clearance work already is provided for in existing decree laws but often does not get done.

Jose Artur Neves said that a “list will be made” so that “everyone knows what they have to clean” and that he will be instructing the preservation of “species such as oaks and chestnut trees.”

Neves said that municipalities need to get deeply involved, “If some owners – due to ignorance or laziness – do not do the work, the municipalities will come in and do it for them so that by the end of next May, we have the safe villages, green spaces, safe roads, safe forests and safe cable corridors.”

MP, Nuno Magalhães, offered a detail for consideration as the compensation allocated in next year’s budget is only for those who died in this summer’s fires, not for those that were injured.

The Ministry of Finance has €186 million set aside for fire related expenditure with €62 million allocated for “compensation for deaths in the forest fires of June and October.”

The prime minister said that he intends to extend compensation to the seriously injured, mainly because President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa wanted it when he called for a “re-examination of the matter, in particular the section on seriously injured people.”

PM António Costa said “We already have a very rapid system of support for the victims and our intention is to extend this to the seriously injured, since the commission that was set up is capable of completing the report within the next two weeks, presenting the compensation criteria of the victims and can do the same for the injured.”

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