The Generalitat Valenciana and Aragon strengthen coordination in prevention and defense of natural heritage against fires

The Generalitat Valenciana and Aragon strengthen coordination in prevention and defense of natural heritage against fires
The Generalitat Valenciana and Aragon strengthen coordination in prevention and defense of natural heritage against fires

VALENCIA (EP). The Generalitat Valenciana and the Government of Aragon have met to strengthen coordination in prevention and defence of natural heritage against fires. This Thursday a first contact took place in El Toro, which was attended by the Minister of the Environment, Salome Pradas; the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, Elisa Nunez; the president of the Provincial Council of Castellón, Marta Barrachina; the Minister of Environment and Tourism of the Government of Aragon, Manuel Blascoand the president of the Provincial Council of Teruel, Joaquin Juste.

During the meeting, the leaders of both communities have pointed out the need to strengthen joint actions in the defence of the natural heritage that is common to both territories. Examples of this are the Cabriel Valley Biosphere Reserve, the Alto Túria Reserve, border natural parks such as Tinença de Benifassà, Penyagolosa or the Puebla de San Miguel natural park, which rises from the foothills of the Sierra de Javalambre in Teruel.

The heads of the Environment and Interior departments of both autonomous regions and the provincial presidents have agreed that these areas “are true natural gems that deserve to be protected.” They have therefore opted to guarantee cooperation to “defend these enclaves from fire, but also to protect the entire territory and encourage the regeneration of the areas affected by the flames.”

The meeting highlighted common objectives and agreed to hold regular meetings focused on the conservation of the natural environment, the fight against forest fires and the protection of the environment in inland municipalities.

In this regard, the Minister for the Environment, Salomé Pradas, has announced that the wastewater treatment plants “will be, in this 2024 campaign, another instrument to fight fires in such a complicated drought context.” Pradas explained that her department, together with the Ministry of Justice and the Interior, has promoted a plan to use regenerated water from wastewater treatment plants to refill tanks intended for prevention and these water resources will be used to extinguish fires.

Regarding this project, Pradas has assured that “with the regenerated water from the treatment plants and through the Public Entity for Waste Water Sanitation of the Valencian Community (Epsar) a hundred facilities have been selected closer to the different deposits with the aim of making the shipment as easy and agile as possible.”

Wastewater treatment plants to supply water

These fire prevention and extinguishing tanks depend, to a large extent, on rainfall and the water resources in their surroundings, so they require reinforcement mainly due to the drought situation. Likewise, Pradas has highlighted that the treatment plants will also be available to supply water for extinguishing fires, in case the emergency teams so require.

The Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Elisa Núñez, has highlighted “the importance of strengthening coordination between the administrations of the fire prevention and extinction teams of both autonomous communities, especially in the inland regions of Castellón, in order to act as quickly as possible and protect the natural heritage.”

Within the framework of this collaboration, the Minister of Justice and the Interior has delivered in 2024 TETRA transmitters to 8 forest observatories in the community of Aragon -Javalón, Pico Buitre, Cerro Pelado, Santa Isabel, Tamborero, El Morrón, La Picosa, Monroyo-, which are connected to the digital emergency communications network of the Generalitat, to facilitate communication between forest observatories in border areas between both regions and thus be able to share information in the early stages of detecting possible forest fires.

The Ministry of Justice is also investing 26.6 million euros in infrastructure and services to prevent forest fires in the areas bordering the Valencian Community and Aragon.

The works include, in addition to the maintenance of forest observatories and water tanks, the construction of 6 forest observatories near Aragon -Boqueras (Altura), Alto Negro (La Yesa), Creu Gelat (Cinctorres), Frontón (Montanejos), Fredes (La Pobla de Benifassà) and Picayo (Vilafranca del Cid). The construction of 4 tanks near Aragon -Casas Bajas, Segorbe, Soneja and Villahermosa del Río- has also been started.

Firebreak area maintenance

In addition, there is the maintenance of firebreak areas in forest lands managed by the Generalitat, with 3 different works affecting Castellón and the north of Valencia, the supply and installation of meteorological data sensors in Prevention Units of the Preventive Surveillance Service, the provision of monitoring and development services for the prevention of forest fires in the Valencian Community, and the Preventive Surveillance Service 2023-2025.

For his part, the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Aragon, Manuel Blascohas recalled that the coordination between Aragon and the Valencian Community “already exists” and what is intended with the signing of the protocol is to “organize it” so that it allows the immediate intervention of the teams of one community when they see a fire in the one next door. Blasco has also stressed the importance of forest management. “We have to clear the mountains, the wood is reusable,” he said.

The president of the Provincial Council of Castellón, Marta Barrachinahas stressed that “the response times in interventions for fires or emergencies and rescue are key when it comes to acting successfully and hence the importance of collaboration and coordination between both communities.” “In the face of fire, solidarity, prevention and useful policy unite us to generate security, awareness and tranquility in our provinces,” he said.

The leaders of both autonomous regions have visited the Torás area, specifically two points affected by the Bejís fire in 2022, where different measures have been taken once the fire was extinguished with the aim of promoting the regeneration of the environment. Almost two million euros have been invested in emergency work in the affected area. Efforts have focused on improving forest tracks, raising structures to prevent the erosion of the forest, shredding wood and building rafts for wildlife.

The Mayors’ Committee wonders why they had not met

In light of this, the Committee of Mayors promoting the initiative ‘Fire does not understand boundaries’ has assessed the meeting this Thursday and has asked “why, when they have already been in office for a year, they have not met before being fully immersed in the fire campaign.

The group believes that “since there are forums already created and the issue was raised in a cross-cutting manner at the meeting of mayors held in Montanejos on the 15th, under the slogan ‘Fire does not understand boundaries’, rather than a proactive action, it seems more like a preventive action, not of the fire, but of public opinion.”

The Committee of Mayors has pointed out that since thirty mayors from the border between Teruel and Castellón met on June 15 in Montanejos to, “with the best of intentions and a deep vocation to serve the territory and its inhabitants,” reflect on the risks to which the rich heritage of the landscape is subject, “at least the fire is on the table.” With this objective, a second meeting was planned for July 13 in Mora de Rubielos, it has reported.

Finally, he pointed out that “turning one’s back on municipal leaders, mayors of the various municipalities, is a lack of political courtesy and says very little about what they care about the town councils beyond their political gain at any given time.”

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