In Portugal it is legal to have fires on a private farm, whether to burn agricultural waste or to create a healthy ecosystem for various fauna species to grow, however, the country has some rules that people need to follow to legally make fires in a certain area.
Firstly, there are times when it is not advisable to make fires at all. Usually during the summer when the risk of forest fires is high. Secondly, the authorities such as City Halls must authorise people to make the fires. The request for a fire can also be made on fogos.icnf.pt website.
In Portugal there are two types of fires considered: the fires to burn agricultural waste (queima) or a fire that will burn a more extensive area (queima extensiva).
Advice for burning
The Nature and Forest Conservation Institute (ICNF) advises people who want to burn agricultural waste to put all the waste in a safe area, where no trees or other inflammable material is around. Thus, the waste must be placed in an area where the fire is more difficult to spread. Farmers must throw water into the area surrounding the fire as well as have a source of water nearby, for safety. The amount of waste must be considered and burned in small quantities.
To burn a more extensive area it is also required authorisation from the City Hall as well it is mandatory to be present a qualified technician to control the fire since it is a large area that is going to be burned. The fire must be controlled by burning small areas each time.
Besides helping farmers to take care of their land, the fires have some environmental impact that should also be considered. The heat provoked by the fires changes the physical and chemical properties of the soil. The smoke may change the air quality making it unhealthy for people to breathe as well as reducing the visibility on car routes, which may cause road accidents.
According to E-konomista, an economic-related website says that according to Portuguese law there is a time when it is forbidden to make fires for the mentioned purposes. From 1 July until 30 September people are not allowed to burn agricultural waste or a certain piece of land, due to the climate and the high risk of creating an uncontrolled forest fire. During this time farmers may request the authorities to burn agricultural waste, if authorised a team of firemen will be at the location to control the fire.
For those who make illegal fire, it means, not asking authorisation to make a fire, the fines may go from €280 to €10,000 for a single person, or from €1,600 to €120,000 for businesses. If an illegal fire becomes a forest fire, the punishment may result in eight years in prison, since it is considered a crime.