The Junta will have “doubled” the budget for fire prevention and fighting in 2025

The Junta will have “doubled” the budget for fire prevention and fighting in 2025
The Junta will have “doubled” the budget for fire prevention and fighting in 2025

The Minister for the Environment, Housing and Land Management, Juan Carlos Suárez-Quiñones, defended today that his department has implemented various improvements in the protection of forest and natural heritage, with emphasis on the fight against fires, in such a way that it “will have doubled” the budget allocated for this purpose in 2025, with a consolidated increase of 65 million, an increase that will reach 126 million euros in the legislature, to improve infrastructure, resources, technologies and working conditions for more than 4,700 professionals involved.

This was stated during his appearance in Parliament to analyse the degree of compliance with his department’s objectives for the legislature, in which he recalled that guidelines for the prevention and extinction of forest fires have been approved, and progress has been made in the processing of the Special Plan for Civil Protection against Forest Fires (Infocal), with “additional investment contributions driven by European funds”, according to Ical.

As regards job stability and consolidation, he pointed out that “all positions for command centre operators have been filled and calls have been made for fire truck and surveillance post personnel.” The current contracts for ground crews “ensure a minimum work duration of nine months, and investment has been made in the renewal of vehicles and technologies, including video surveillance systems and a real-time information platform on forest fires (Inforcyl).” 8.5 million euros have also been invested in improving infrastructure and another five million euros that will allow the expansion and adaptation of air bases.

In terms of forest health, the minister continued, more than 37,000 inspections and 18,500 laboratory analyses have been carried out, with an investment of 4.2 million euros in 2023-2024. In terms of the conservation of natural heritage, procedures for reporting impacts on plans and projects have been simplified and a Nature Data Bank has been created. In addition, ecosystem restoration and sustainable forest management projects have been initiated with a total investment of 36.6 million euros.

Suárez-Quiñones also focused on biodiversity, a subject in which plans are being developed for the recovery and conservation of endangered species, such as the bearded vulture and the brown bear. Five million euros have been invested in conservation programmes for catalogued species and the habitat of the brown bear has been improved. The reintroduction of the Iberian lynx is also being studied and measures have been taken to reduce the damage caused by the wolf on livestock farms, including a new compensation system and preventive infrastructure projects.

In the network of protected natural areas, work is being done to consolidate and improve infrastructure and facilities for public use, with investments in energy efficiency, digitalisation and signage. In addition, projects have been started to recover natural areas, such as the area around the Pinar de Antequera and the former military base of Picón Blanco.

Strengthening the Civil Protection System

On the other hand, Suárez-Quiñones explained that the Junta has made a “significant reinforcement” in the Civil Protection system with multiple initiatives in different areas. In the operational and technological area, specific security plans have been approved for critical infrastructures such as the 1-1-2 Emergency Centre, adapting them to the National Catalogue of Strategic Infrastructures. In addition, a new organisational structure has been implemented in 1-1-2 to improve the specialisation of staff and the technological platform is being modernised to allow the reception of more advanced communications such as text, images and videos, complying with European accessibility standards.

The Es-Alert system has been introduced to send alerts via mobile phones in case of emergencies, in compliance with European regulations. In addition, significant advances have been made in operational resources, such as the new twin-turbine H145 helicopter for rescues and the Phoenix Drone Unit, strengthening response capabilities in various emergency situations.

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