Spain - Plan de selvicultura preventiva de incendios en los sistemas forestales de la Comunidad Valenciana (Spanish)
left: Third maintenance of the firebreaks established through the pilot project of the plan of preventive silviculture (Photo: Generalitat Valenciana) right: Project documents of the plan of preventive silviculture (Photo: Generalitat Valenciana)
Through the declaration of Ayora to a forest intervention area (ZAU) and the implementation of the pilot project of the PSP, a preventive silviculture was promoted through the establishment of a firebreak network.
Aim/objectives: Forest fire is the main degradation driver in Ayora. In the article 24 of the forest law 3/1993 the declaration of special areas to forest intervention areas, so-called “Zonas de Actuación Urgente (ZAU)” through the regional government of Valencia is defined. Objectives are the protection against natural hazards and the promotion of conservation/restoration within a area which is degraded, affected by a forest fire (and natural regeneration is not probable), adverse climatic conditions, pests, severe ecological change, or fauna or flora of special value. If the use of the resources is not compatible with the conservation objectives within a ZAU, the administration has the right to enforce restrictions. The Ayora region was declared to a ZAU in 1997 due to its high risk of fires. In the “Plan de Selvicultura Preventiva de Incendios en los Sistemas Forestales (PSP)” (“plan of preventive silviculture to prevent forest fires”) which became operative in 1996 and whose main objective is the reduction of the fire risk, the ZAU was practically addressed for the first time in the establishment of a firebreak network (áreas cortafuegos). The PSP constitutes an important part of the “plan de protección contra incendios forestales” (“plan of protection against forest fires”) and has the following main objectives: The analysis/mapping of historic forest fires in Valencia (1984-1994) to support decision-making in silvicultural issues, the classification of the forest by quality and fire risk to establish local/regional plans to prevent fires (through silvicultural actions), selection of areas (province level) for the establishment of pilot projects (to apply silvicultural actions), decision on periodic investment and level of employment.
Methods: Within the PSP, 4 pilot projects were initiated in Los Serranos (17‘470 ha), Utiel-Requena (20’966 ha), Valle de Ayora-Cofrentes (33’851 ha) and Sierra de Mariola (11’574 ha) to promote a preventive silviculture which aims in modifying the amount of fuel in the forest through the establishment of a firebreak network and to limit the burnt area. The pilot areas were selected (in collaboration with the forest administration of Valencia) by the following criteria: representativity for the whole province, high value for the population, high potential risk of fire. In T_SPA009en the pilot project of Ayora-Cofrentes (Cofrentes, Jalance, Jarafuel, Zarra, Ayora) is described in detail and this approach focuses on the Ayora site as well. The firebreak network was established between 1998 and 2002, carried out by the company VAERSA and executed on both public and private land. Since the old firebreaks (established before the project) had a strong visual and ecological impact, the PSP designed a new type called “área cortafuego”. The continuous maintenance of the firebreaks is required which is also included in the pilot project. The total area protected by the firebreak network amounts to 33’851 ha while the management measures were executed on 1944,81 ha. The costs of the execution were 1312 Euro per ha, the maintenance 82.03 Euro per ha (all 2 years) and 31.37 Euro per ha (all 4 years).
Stages of implementation: After the establishment of the PSP (1996) and the declaration of Ayora to a ZAU (1997) the implementation of the pilot project was realized in the following phases: 1) splitting up of the territory based on the quality and the potential risk (using maps and aerial pictures), 2) field work (to examine the first draft of the firebreak network elaborated in the office), 3) office work (digitizing), 4) final map, 5) estimation of costs, 6) combination of firebreak plan with the cadastral land register.
Role of stakeholders: The PSP, the ZAU and the pilot projects were set up by the regional government of Valencia, in collaboration with the forest services. The PSP is put into operation each year by the forest services to plan the maintenance of the firebreak network. The effect on the local population is the creation of jobs in forest management.
Location: Spain, Valencia, Los Serranos, Utiel-Requena, Valle de Ayora-Cofrentes, Sierra de Mariola Approach area: 838.61 km2 Type of Approach: project/programme based Focus: mainly on conservation with other activities WOCAT database reference: A_SPA002en Related technology(ies): Cleared strip network for fire prevention (firebreaks) (T_SPA009en) Compiled by: Nina Lauterburg, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) Date: 2013-05-06 Contact person: Jaime Baeza, Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo (CEAM), Parque Tecnológico Paterna. C/ Charles Darwin 14, 46980 Valencia, Spain. / Departamento de Ecología, Universidad de Alicante, Ap. 99, 03080 Alicante, Spain. email@example.com
Problem, objectives and constraints
High amount of continuous fuel due to lack of management which increases the risk of vast and devastating fires, lack of fire prevention and extinction measures, ecological and visual impact of old firebreaks.
Research on historic fires to support decision-making in silvicultural practices, fire risk reduction, reducing the burnt area through splitting up the forest, improvement of fire prevention and extinction measures (e.g. improvement of access for fire-fighting vehicles and protection of fire fighters), establish local/regional plans to prevent fires (through silvicultural actions), promote conservation of the forest on a large scale
Laws on forest management existed already before the implementation of the PSP but the idea of establishing a firebreak network was not available
With the pilot project of the PSP the firebreak network was carefully assessed and implemented
There was a lack of money to implement silvicultural measures
The pilot project of the PSP was fully financed by the government
Participation and decision making
Stakeholders / target groups
Approach costs met by:
SLM specialists / agricultural advisors
politicians / decision makers
land users, groups
government (government of Valencia )
Annual budget for SLM component: US$ 100,000-1,000,000
Decisions on choice of the Technology(ies): Politicians in collaboration with SLM specialists
Decisions on method of implementing the Technology(ies): Politicians in collaboration with SLM specialists
Approach designed by: national specialists
Implementing bodies: government (Regional government of Valencia (Generalitat Valenciana), forest services), local government (district, county, municipality, village etc) (Probably the local governments helped in the implementation of the pilot projects, e.g. provision of maps. )
Land user involvement
By government of Valencia
By government of Valencia
local people working in the execution and maintenance of the firebreak network, led by forest agents and forest engineers of the government of Valencia
By government of Valencia
By government of Valencia
Differences between participation of men and women: Yes, moderate Usually men are involved in the forest sector
Involvement of disadvantaged groups: Yes, little In the execution and the maintenance of the firebreak network unemployed local people were/are included. But in the development of the PSP this was not the case.
Organogram: The PSP and the pilot projects were set up by the regional government of Valencia in collaboration with the forest services. Forest engineers and forest agents are employed at the forest services and helped to design the projects. VAERSA, a public company of the Generalitat Valenciana, executed the pilot projects and was supported by forest engineers, forest agents and the local governments. Local forest workers were contracted (by VAERSA) for execution and maintenance work and controlled by forest agents. (Nina Lauterburg)
Training / awareness raising: Training provided for land user Training was on-the-job Training focused on Training of local people in the use of machinery in forest management (execution and maintenance of firebreaks)
The extension system is quite adequate to ensure continuation of activities. The maintenance of the pilot projects is included in the PSP and is planned and executed by the government of Valencia. Already three maintenance projects followed after the execution of the pilot projects (2000-2004, 2004-2008, 2008-2012). Future funding of activities is not clear.
Research: Yes, moderate research. Topics covered include technology, economics / marketing, ecology Mostly on station and on-farm research. analysis/mapping of historic forest fires in Valencia (1984-1994) to support decision-making in silvicultural practices, classification of the forest by quality and fire risk, research on causes of forest fires
External material support / subsidies
Contribution per area (state/private sector): Yes. state (government of Valencia)
Labour: Paid in cash. execution and maintenance of firebreak network (forest management)
Regular observations by project staff, government: Observations of built-up of fuel to decide when and where maintenance is required
Changes as result of monitoring and evaluation: There were no changes in the approach.
There were few changes in the technology. The technology is the same since the execution of the project but maintenance (e.g. clearing of firebreaks) is applied. Some more firebreaks were established where it was still required and not covered by the pilot project.
Impacts of the Approach
Improved sustainable land management: Yes, moderate; Improvement of fire extinction and prevention
Adoption by other land users / projects: Yes, few; Within the PSP they carried out 4 pilot projects, and after the projects more firebreaks were established
Improved livelihoods / human well-being: Yes, little; Reduction of the risk of fire and the loss of land through fires. Furthermore jobs were created by this project.
Improved situation of disadvantaged groups: Yes, little; More jobs provided through this approach of forest management
Poverty alleviation: Yes, little; More jobs provided through this approach of forest management
Training, advisory service and research:
Land users*: good
Research contributing to the approach`s effectiveness: Moderately The development of the firebreak network is a complex process and was planned in detail.
Land/water use rights: The land use rights / water rights did neither help nor hinder the implementation of the approach. The firebreak network was implemented on both public and private land and the government of Valencia is allowed to establish a ZAU by law.
Long-term impact of subsidies: Once the government will not be able to continue paying the maintenance of the firebreaks the technology will probably not be managed anymore
Main motivation of land users to implement SLM:
Fire prevention and extinction
Sustainability of activities:
No the land users can`t sustain the approach activities without support. The maintenance is expensive and has to be financed by the state. Furthermore, forest services need to provide technical assistance.
Strengths and how to sustain/improve
Weaknesses and how to overcome
Before the implementation of the pilot projects of the PSP there was a lack of money and no institutional base. The pilot project allowed to establish a firebreak network (fully financed by the government of Valencia) The government should sustain its investment in forest management.
The maintenance of the firebreak network is included in the PSP. The government should sustain its investment in forest management.
The firebreak network facilitates the access for fire fighters (and vehicles) and guarantees a higher security for people, thus increasing the possibility to control/slow down a fire. By arranging the territory in different parcels (firebreaks of first, second and third order) the spread of large forest fires is less probable The maintenance of firebreaks is crucial. Furthermore, there must be a good coordination and organisation within the fire fighter staff in case of an emergency
There are also firebreaks which were not established within the pilot project but due to a request of forest agents. The project was important to upscale this technology and to get people’s attention for the problem of forest fires. Public awareness raising.
There are both social and economic benefits for
local people. The establishment and the maintenance of firebreaks provide jobs for rural people, which allows them to increase their livelihood conditions. People do not depend on unemployment payments and are therefore more accepted in society. The government should sustain its investment in forest management and include the local population
Firebreaks do mainly work in fire extinction and less in fire prevention Investigation of other management practices and approaches. An integrative way of forest management could be the clearing of fire-prone species and the planting of more fire-resistant species as suggested by CEAM.
Little involvement of the local population. The
projects were designed by the government without including local land users Include local land users in the planning of forest management. Work in a transdisciplinary way.
Land users cannot continue the SLM approach/ technology on their own. The maintenance is expensive and has to be financed by the state. Once the government will not continue paying the maintenance of the firebreaks the technology will probably not be managed anymore. Furthermore, forest services need to provide technical assistance The government should sustain its investment in forest management. More trainings could be provided to local land users by the government of Valencia