The fire that broke out on Saturday in the municipality of Covilhã is still active today and has already consumed about 10,000 hectares, which are also part of the PNSE, an area of 89,000 hectares that covers territories of the municipalities of Celorico da Beira, Covilhã, Gouveia, Guarda, Manteigas and Seia.
It is this Natural Park that, Domingos Patacho told Lusa, is being significantly affected by the flames, which have essentially been consuming maritime pine, an indigenous species.
“The first lesson of this fire is that we have to have more compartmentalised areas, more hardwoods are needed, such as beech trees, which in Manteigas were less affected by fire and which will therefore be able to regenerate more easily”, said the association leader.
Maritime pine, a resinous tree planted in large quantities in the Serra during the Estado Novo (in 1938) to stop erosion, but it burns more easily..
It is these trees that, he said, will take decades to repopulate the PNSE area. But he adds that the yew forests, rare in Portugal, have so far been spared from the flames, which have not reached the Zêzere Valley area.
With the fire continuing to consume the Park, now also affecting areas of pastures and agriculture, Domingos Patacho warns that this will not only be harmful to the cheese production but also to the honey.
“Part of the areas of the Park that are undergrowth can regenerate. But we are not talking about 10, or 100 hectares. We are talking about thousands of hectares, of habitats on which many species of animals depend, the pollinating insects, the mountain gecko… all this works in a chain”, he said.
In the view of the Quercus leader, the most worrying consequence of the fire are the steep slopes of the Zêzere Valley, now without trees and subject to erosion when it rains, as has happened in the past.
In the coming months, he argued, emergency management measures should be in place to contain erosion.