PRR and forests: the “reprise” of an already very worn film Opinion

After the “great forest reform” by Dr. Capoulas Santos, Portugal, was the country with the largest burn area in the European Union in 2016, 2017 and 2018. There are aspects of European life where we are “big”. In 2019 and through 2020 Romania took us from the top, but we’re right behind. Nor is it worth arguing about the differences between territorial or forest areas between our country and some other Member States. Evidence of the inability to manage our territory is terrifying.

You will say, but the problem comes from far behind! It’s not just from the government that Dr. Capoulas Santos. It’s true! It’s coming from behind, even from governments where Dr. Capoulas Santos and Dr. António Costa was Minister of Agriculture and Internal Administration. In the latter case, it has left its mark to this day. Mark the negative, understand!

The strange thing is that in the course of the “great reform” of Dr. Capoulas Santos for German Matos Fernandes, there is no paradigm shift. Hopefully the weather will help us though. With climate change, the likelihood is decreasing, but it seems that there are people out there who believe in miracles. In fact, the two ministers define the same strategy as the announcement of millions of euros that are to be at stake.

There is no point in re-explaining what defines reform and how much we need it. There are more qualified people for this explanation. But “reform” seen in a purely sectoral framework, outside of the whole context of rural exodus, lack of training, financial injustice, imperfectly competitive markets and other areas based on combating the consequences is all that has already been done . We don’t have the patience to come to terms with it.

Just look at the graph of the burned area in Portugal. There is nothing easier to evaluate the results of the Portuguese forest policy. It’s been over 20 years. Twenty years of proven failure by government and partners in the silvo industrial sector

In my case, the experience of public consultations on forest reforms comes from the program for sustainable development of the Portuguese forests. Government launched program of which the current Secretary-General of the United Nations was Prime Minister. The plan resulted in the printing of a quarter of a hundred pages in the Diário da República. At that time, hope was bolstered by the recent adoption of the Basic Law for Forest Policy. A hope, she concludes, fueled by innocence.

From then on, just look at the graph of the burned area in Portugal. There is nothing easier to evaluate the results of the Portuguese forest policy. It’s been over 20 years. More than 20 years of continuous degradation of ecosystems, loss of tree cover, increasing exposure to pests and diseases, expansion of exotic and invasive species. Twenty years of proven failure by the government and partners in the silvo industrial sector. Twenty years of increasing uncertainty for the population, either due to proximity to the flames or the distance the smoke reaches, with implications for air quality and worsening cardiopulmonary disease or contamination of human water supplies from the inability to to contain the dripping of ashes after the fire.

History repeats itself in the restoration and resilience plan now presented by the government, which is still in a preliminary version with regard to forests. Here come the availability announcements of hundreds of millions of euros for the forest (which the country doesn’t have). Here comes the PowerPoint with pleasant colors and good intentions schedules. There are also threats, threats to those who are already threatened. Threatened by the markets, with government approval, with a long imbalance in the distribution of wealth through the production chains. Indeed, the thesis that the government is strong only with the weak is reinforced in this plan. Not that the weak are weak, for their weakness is based on their inability to unite wills in defense of common interests.

Final note on the millions: there is an abyss between what is announced and what is reflected in physical realization (and much of it burns). Between the originally announced and actually carried out reprogramming lies: The reprogramming is a “financial engineering” procedure or, better, a lowering of the bar between a jump height for an Olympic athlete and the jump of a two-year-old child. After lowering the bar, it is argued that the execution rate of the Millions was a success. However, this is not even the case with the PDR2020, where an error cannot be masked.

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