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Forest fires in Portugal

Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Northern Route, 2017 Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra. 2018 Frances, 2018 Ingles, 2019 Portugues
Does anyone have any information about the impact of forest fires and fires an the Camino?
I start from Lisbon on 25th July and then when I get to porto walk up the coast to SdC
 
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Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Northern Route, 2017 Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra. 2018 Frances, 2018 Ingles, 2019 Portugues
Thanks everyone. I think the Camino is far enough away.
 

Walton

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
Wow! You have to see Global Forest Watch. That's scary.

Can't help wondering how much all these fires are contributing to climate change.
 
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Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Northern Route, 2017 Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra. 2018 Frances, 2018 Ingles, 2019 Portugues
Wow! You have to see Global Forest Watch. That's scary.

Can't help wondering how much all these fires are contributing to climate change.
Yes. Agree. Although looking at older posts there seem to have been fires here in and off for many years
 

Walton

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
Yes. Agree. Although looking at older posts there seem to have been fires here in and off for many years

Agree Lucy.

We walked the Portugeuse in 2017 from Lisbon through to SDC.

Being Australian, I have to say that I've never seen such magnificent eucalyptus trees. They grow tall and straight and unlike here, there is no damage caused to them by insects or other predators.

Eucalyptus trees are unique to Australia in that they have adapted over millions of years to assist fire and because of that, they are generally highly flammable.

Planting such vast eucalyptus plantations that we saw in Portugal and some of Spain is just beyond belief.

Given hot summer temperatures, eucalyptus leaves with oil glands, (that's where the eucalyptus smell comes from) bark shed/ leaf litter on the ground and on a hot day you have an explosive mix just requiring a lightening strike or an errant match to start a ferocious blaze.

While eucalyptus wood is prized and valuable, it is, in my opinion, sheer lunacy to plant these magnificent trees in plantations outside of Australia.

There were terrible fires in Portugal when we walked and we absolutely feel for the people and animals / wildlife affected. I don't understand why eucalyptus is so widely planted.

Stay safe and please never walk in an eucalyptus plantation forest when fires are close.
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I agree There are too many eucalyptus in Portugal and Galicia. There are also some plagues here, depending on the type of tree. Xunta de Galicia has requalified the land and now it is not possible to replant pines and eucalytus in many places, I don't know the situation in Portugal.
 

Pilgrim Patricia

Want to do the VdlP again!
Year of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata; Hospitalera Miraz 2011
I agree There are too many eucalyptus in Portugal and Galicia. There are also some plagues here, depending on the type of tree. Xunta de Galicia has requalified the land and now it is not possible to replant pines and eucalytus in many places, I don't know the situation in Portugal.

Eucalyptus is an invasive species which was introduced to Portugal and Spain about three centuries ago. They kill off pretty much anything else that would normally grow in the forest. Although the trees grow quickly, they twist as they get taller so the wood is no good for construction (as was originally thought), but can be used for pulp. They smell good, however, as has been mentioned here, the sap is very flammable. :( https://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-portugal-eucalyptus-fire-20170620-story.html
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Eucalyptus is an invasive species which was introduced to Portugal and Spain about three centuries ago. They kill off pretty much anything else that would normally grow in the forest. Although the trees grow quickly, they twist as they get taller so the wood is no good for construction (as was originally thought), but can be used for pulp. They smell good, however, as has been mentioned here, the sap is very flammable. :( https://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-portugal-eucalyptus-fire-20170620-story.html
I don't like eucalytus either but it is an important source of income in the rural.
I have some land in Galicia (1 Hectare). Most of it has been requalified as not allowed to replant pines and eucalyptus. The result is the price of my land now is much lower (half) than 5 years ago. But nevertheless I agree with the Xunta's law in order. to reduce those trees and prevent fires.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I once walked to Finisterre with a man who was a university professor with a specialization in mushrooms. He became nearly apopleptic as we walked, going on and on about how years ago there had been a huge variety of mushrooms in this area, all of which had been killed off by the eucalyptus.

My guess is that it is the universal problem that the market’s assessment of short term gains does not factor in long term costs. But I am not an economist so I could be way off base.
 

Anna Sar

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portuguese Central, Litoral, Primitivo, San Salvador, di Assisi, Francis Way, Le Puy, Sanabres
I rubbed my hands with the eucalipus leaf once. Just to check if the scent is stronger. Well, my hands were like burnt, with skin irritation like nettle rush for few days.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Eucalyptus is an invasive species which was introduced to Portugal and Spain about three centuries ago. They kill off pretty much anything else that would normally grow in the forest. Although the trees grow quickly, they twist as they get taller so the wood is no good for construction (as was originally thought), but can be used for pulp. They smell good, however, as has been mentioned here, the sap is very flammable. :( https://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-portugal-eucalyptus-fire-20170620-story.html
Some pretty significant fact-checking required here!! The first recorded entry of Eucalyptyus seeds into Spain was from Western Australia in 1863, and at that time it was mainly used for fire wood and mine shaft props. Its adoption as a major source of short fibre (pulp) was demand driven, not necessarily because of its unsuitability for other uses.

They are not necessarily invasive, but when grown as a plantation timber, they result in a monoculture. This is about the forestry practices, not about their behaviour as plant. In their native environment, they grow in a diverse environment, rarely as a monoculture.

Finally, while the whole tree is flammable, it is not the sap that is the major source of fire hazard, but the volatile fragrant oils in the leaves. This can create a beautiful but dangerous haze, such as occurs near Sydney in the Blue Mountains in NSW, so named because of that haze.

And on a minor point from an earlier post, eucalyptus are not uniquely Australian, although they are predominantly so. Their natural range includes the eastern islands in the Indonesian archipelago and New Guinea.

A useful source that answers some of the questions about the cultivation of eucalyptus in Spain can be found here.
 
Last edited:

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Here's another tool--Portugal specific--that covers the fire situation in that country.

Kept very up to date.

It's mostly east of the Lisbon-Tomar-onward route that gets the worst of the fires.


Bom caminho!
 

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