Back in June 22nd, days after the devastating fires at Pedrógão Grande , Jorge Paiva, botanist, teacher and one of the country´s leading authorities on forests, criticised the general disinterest of politicians in the problems in forestry during an interview on Antena 1.
Jorge Paiva said that the last politician who actually listened to him was Mário Soares - he listened, argued and even wrote articles on environmental issues.
"Politicians do not educate themselves, they are under pressure," said the 83-year-old botanist in an interview with journalist and political editor, Maria Flor Pedroso.
Jorge Paiva pointed to the industrial monoculture and the end of the National Forestry Service - a measure taken by socialist governments and continued by governments of PSD and CDS-PP - as decisive factors in what happened at Pedrógão Grande in July.
The professor was not surprised by the tragedy, which left him "tense and furious," and even advises his foreign friends not to use roads in the burned areas of Agueda and Mortágua.
Paiva also questioned the decision to make a firefighter from Tavira, the commander who did not know the centre of the country.
The professor said he has "the absolute certainty" that if there were forest guards, the number of fires would fall to a very low number in Portugal, saying only that "there are many interests". There are no longer commissions to solve the problem, with their knowledge and perspective. Because, "despite pressure, nothing has been done". Even when they invited Pavia to join such a body, he rejected it.
Jorge Paiva says that when he was called to parliament, MPs agreed with what he had to say, but then voted according to the will of the party, in favour of "economic interests," adding that there is a need for the "professionalisation" of firefighters and firefighting.
Jorge Paiva is disgusted with the possibility that rural populations plant "whatever they are given and with enthusiasm". "It cannot be. It's not like that in Finland and Sweden," he says “This lack of control is not to be tolerated in a civilised country. “
He confirmed that, although his famous Christmas Cards carrying an environmental message are sent to more than 3,000 people, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister are not on his list. Pavia does not own a car but uses public transport. His passion is the environmental education of young people, this is now his main activity and his hope for the future.
For the interview in Portuguese, click here
Pavia’s manifesto for a national forestry and forest fire plan is published to coincide with the discussions on the government’s new strategy, launched on Saturday 21st October.
If Hospital Services were discontinued and hospitals were abandoned, the number of deaths would increase dramatically, and hospitals would deteriorate and eventually collapse.
If the Prison Services were discontinued and the prisons were abandoned, the number of crimes would increase dramatically, and the prisons would deteriorate and eventually collapse.
Equally, the Forest Service has now been decimated, forest fires have increased dramatically and rangers' houses deteriorated, leaving many in ruins.
THIS WAS ONE OF THE ERRORS OF SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS BUT THERE ARE MANY MORE THAT LEAD TO THE INCENDIARY SUMMERS THAT WE NOW HAVE
All political parties are guilty of the large scale sacrifice of the Portuguese forest.
Instead of politicians indulging in shouting at each other in Parliament, in televised debates and during election campaigns, they must join forces and provide a plan to solve the most serious human, economic and environmental disaster we have.
Because they only have short term solutions that will have to span multiple legislations, politicians - compulsive loudmouths - have never come together to reach an overall agreement.
THIS IS PURE POLITICAL INCOMPETENCE
THAT´S ENOUGH !!!
Jorge Paiva, October 2017
Faro gathering in protest at this summer's fires. © R Peddle