31 municipalities in the Valencian Community receive precise information on prevention and self-protection, in areas far from the city centre.
The owners of plots located in urbanizations far from the city center receive these days accurate and personalized information on how to minimize risks, prevent and act against forest fires.
The Valencian company Vielca Medio Ambiente has launched an information campaign for the residents of a total of 31 urbanizations spread throughout the territory of the Valencian Community, with the aim of informing them about all these issues. The campaign, promoted by the General Directorate of Forest Fire Prevention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition, runs throughout the summer.
The growth of urbanizations and buildings scattered on forest land generates what is known as the “urban-forest interface”. They are areas of contact between these two types of land use, which involve serious risks in the event of fire, as the scenarios to be addressed are complex; attention must be paid to the protection of human lives, property and the natural environment.
In recent years there have been serious cases of fires in these areas (e.g. the fire in 2016 in the municipalities of Poble Nou de Benitatxell and Xàbia, which burned down the area of Granadella). Constan Amurrio, technical director of Vielca Medio Ambiente and responsible for the campaign, explains the need for specific outreach activities for these areas: “With rural abandonment and climate change, it is foreseeable that this problem will get worse in the future. At the same time, the reality is that many organizations and houses at the urban-forest interface do not have preventive or self-protection measures. Therefore, a first step is to enhance the social perception of risk, providing information that allows neighbors to respond correctly and actively to the risk of fire. This is an issue of utmost interest to the people living in these areas.”
Vielca Medio Ambiente technicians hold participatory talks in which they inform about legal requirements, preventive measures and self-protection measures. These are held in person and during the summer weekends, to get the maximum attendance. As for the legal requirements, owners of dwellings in or adjacent to forest areas are informed that they are responsible for carrying out the implementation and maintenance of forest fire protection areas or areas of discontinuity of vegetation. These preventive measures and other measures of great importance in the event of a forest fire must be included in a self-protection plan, as required by current regulations.
This is the first time that an information campaign has been developed specifically for urban areas. The initiative is part of the Stop al Foc awareness campaign regularly organised by the Valencian Government to prevent forest fires and protect the natural environment, which accounts for 57% of the area of the Valencian Community, at a particularly dangerous time of year.