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Pulp industry believes forestry reforms will have to be ditched 'in the near future'

eucalyptusLast week’s hurried forestry reforms, rushed through after a mammoth all-night session of the agriculture committee, were a political imperative after the devastating fires at Pedrógão Grande which killed an estimated 64 people and injured 200.

Such has been the public anger at the forestry industry, blamed for the close planting of highly combustible eucalyptus trees, failing to establish fire breaks and planting right up to roadsides, the government decided that the planting of eucalyptus from now on only may be carried out with the say-so of the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation.

The industry already was aware of the ‘no new forests’ proposal with the prime minister insistent that the forestry and pulp industries will have to be more efficient with the area they already cover. Click here

Both the prime minster and the president of the republic have put their weight behind getting some legislation signed off quickly before the summer holidays so that the government can be seen to have done something practical in the aftermath of Pedrógão Grande.

The agricultural committee thrashed out and approved three proposals in which the current laws will be amended, a land registration system will be implemented to show who owns what and a new fire defence system will be put in place.

The government also wants gradually to reduce the area covered by eucalyptus which will reduce fire prone areas over time. Around half of Portugal’s forests are ‘eucalyptus only’ areas, a tree species favoured by the pulp industry for its ability to grow quickly.

The pulp industry, represented by the association Celpa, says that the forestry reforms have been approved in a hurry and the resulting rules "do not respect the opinion and informed contributions of almost all those involved in the forestry sector: the fifty entities called to the parliamentary committee.”

In fact, Celpa said the forest reforms approved in parliament last week, represents "the biggest attack" ever made on forests in the history of democracy in Portugal.”

For the paper industry, the legislation that has been passed "does not recognise the scientific and university communities, which categorically have stated that the fires are directly related to a lack of forest management and cleanliness of the territory (which leads to excess combustible materials lying on the ground), and an insufficient number fire breaks - for example, 10 metres away from roads and 50 metres from properties."

Celpa argues that fires "do not depend on the type of tree species, eucalyptus or any other, as evidenced by historical facts and explained by the scientific and university community."

The pulp association claims that the forestry reforms will have a "profoundly negative" impact on the entire forestry sector, namely "by increasing disinvestment, degradation and abandonment of forest areas, promoting the risk of fires, banning the only profitable forest species, contributing to the increase of scrub and uncultivated areas, corresponding to about 50% of the area that has been burned in Portugal in this century."

Celpa adds that forest reform "reduces the income of small forest owners and producers, promotes desertification of the interior and rural areas of the country, calls into question the approximately 100,000 jobs in the forestry sector and negatively impacts a sector that represents 5% of GDP in Portugal and 10% of the exports of our country."

Then there will be an increased need for "timber imports, which already represent around €200 million per year," and the topical comment that "the reforms prevent the growth of a forest species that contributes most to the absorption of CO2.”

The paper industry also says that "when haste and political-party interests dominate and supplant technical and scientific knowledge and ignore the opinion of the most relevant, knowledgeable and competent entities in the forestry area ... they defraud the justifiable expectations of thousands of owners and workers and discourage future investment."

"This historical mistake against the forest is so serious that we can only believe in the inevitability of it being reversed in the near future," concludes the case for the industry.

Comments  

-2 #16 mr j 2017-07-26 20:06
Did anyone mention the fact that eucalypts love fire, without fire their seeds would not germinate, its a longstanding tradition for Australian aborigines to set forests on fire, vandals you say, no the contrary, its controlled burning to clear the dry leaves etc and rejuvenate the forest, maybe the Portuguese government should ask the Australian aborigines for advice, lower your head i see flying pigs.
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+1 #15 Deidre 2017-07-26 19:32
It is desperately sad that, in an era of ever increasing fake news, we have official Portuguese Government agencies like Civilian Protection (ProCiv) putting a substantial spin on reality. To stop Portugal looking as 'out of control'.

At this very moment TVI telling us LIVE that over 1500 firemen and over 200 vehicles are fighting a very active fire in and around Mação in Santarem district that has already destroyed buildings as night falls. Yet Prociv at the same time (updating every 10 minutes) describe this fire as 'being put out / overcome' with 161 bombeiros and 46 vehicles!
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0 #14 Steve.O 2017-07-26 17:22
Bravo ADN.
The problem for Portugal and its pubic administration, since joining the EU, has always been that control of the messenger is the priority. As in the old days. The message itself can be total jibberish - as with CELPA and eucalyptus - but, these are Oligarch interests, They are the ones paying vigorously for the laws to be observed or ignored In Portugal ... so there will be no actual change at all. Simple - just live with it (if you accept this continued Salazarian nonsense) ! All ordinary Portuguese accept this - it is only developed country foreigners, and the more aware Portuguese, who struggle with it.

But as so many indigenous Portuguese posters tell us over the years on the expat websites - 'Leave if you are not happy here !' Which does not even begin to address the rigour of Portugal's EU membership.
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+3 #13 Peter Booker 2017-07-26 17:15
Eucalypts are not the only trees that burn readily. All species of pine are also a fire risk. For once, however, I feel that the government is coming close to the right answer. Better firebreaks, greater distance between trees and roads and habitations, better forestry roads are all clearly necessary. All these factors will inevitably lead to greater cost on the industry, and so it will have to manage better its eucalypt plantations. Such an outcome will benefit society and cause CELPA to become more discriminating in its business plan. CELPA is right that there are vast areas of rural Portugal which need active management to minimise the fire risk.

Let us also remember that bad though these fires are, other southern European countries (and Australia and California) appear to have equivalent or worse problems. Portugal is at least getting its act together.
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0 #12 Ed 2017-07-26 15:17
Quoting dw:

I agree that ADN is better than most, and my comment is aimed more widely at the corporate media. Big business PR press releases are too often regurgitated as "news" when they are nothing of the sort. Why not take the view that the content is so risible and predictable that it is not newsworthy at all? But I like to show up these sorts of associations for what they are, hiding behind quack science, like Monsanto, and pleading that they are 'only here to help' - it's wonderful stuff really and totally useless. ;))
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-1 #11 dw 2017-07-26 15:08
Quoting Ed:
Quoting dw:
Celpa's statements are lies. When counter-factual propaganda intended to deceive the public is disseminated by the media with little or no analysis that amounts to fake news.

Are we not able to see this trade statement for what it is? An industry body desperate to fight its corner against public opinion and government legislation?
I am not going to analyse every statement made in press releases, I have not got the luxury of time, but I would have though that ADN readers are quite able to see this statement for what it is. The closing words "...concludes the case for the industry" makes it pretty clear that this is what the industry thinks, and therefore is not to be trusted.

I agree that ADN is better than most, and my comment is aimed more widely at the corporate media. Big business PR press releases are too often regurgitated as "news" when they are nothing of the sort. Why not take the view that the content is so risible and predictable that it is not newsworthy at all?
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+8 #10 marjolein Massis 2017-07-26 13:17
Fake news , as in this case, is not the responsibility of the newspaper. It is very good to show this kind of lies (fake news) from large organizations to the public. So we learn how Celpa tries to influence with lies the society. Decisions by the government are based upon all information given. After reading the artikel, no wonder it took all night to come to a conclusion for the government.
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+3 #9 Ed 2017-07-26 12:37
Quoting dw:
Celpa's statements are lies. When counter-factual propaganda intended to deceive the public is disseminated by the media with little or no analysis that amounts to fake news.

Are we not able to see this trade statement for what it is? An industry body desperate to fight its corner against public opinion and government legislation?
I am not going to analyse every statement made in press releases, I have not got the luxury of time, but I would have though that ADN readers are quite able to see this statement for what it is. The closing words "...concludes the case for the industry" makes it pretty clear that this is what the industry thinks, and therefore is not to be trusted.
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+3 #8 Terry P 2017-07-26 12:30
Quoting marjolein Massis:
Terry P. Is absolutely right in his definition of "Fake News". And it applies perfect to the "arguments" of Celpa.


I disagree. It is obvious that Celpa are pursuing their own profit-driven agenda and will come up with all sorts of rubbish to justify their actions.

This does not make it fake news. It is not news, it is an opinion from a trade body.

Ed is right to publish part of Celpa's press release which puts its point of view. We all know this is largely nonsense, as you rightly point out.

It would be fake news if Ed made it look believable, rather than reproducing Celpa's twisted logic for all to see and marvel at.
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+8 #7 marjolein Massis 2017-07-26 11:28
Terry P. Is absolutely right in his definition of "Fake News". And it applies perfect to the "arguments" of Celpa. Celpas members are professionals and know what is the truth. The truth is not that Eucalyptus trees are the only profitable forest species, technical and scientific knowledge says Eucalyptus is most dangerous for forest fires. 50% of burned not cleaned land will not improve by planting 50% more Eucalyptus.
etc.etc. All this fake news for your own profits is exactly what the tabacco industries produced years ago. There scientist "proved" that smoking had nothing to do with lung cancer or any other illness!! Off course they knew better. The fake news was too, for their profits!! Fake news is knowingly lying !
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