Original Article in portuguese: www.publico.pt

European funds access contest was announced that involves support of 9 million euros – the Left Block asks for its annulation. Government has already reacted.

The government has opened a tender to support reforestation, with eucalyptus, of areas that already have this species but that the owners intend to renew in order to achieve a “more productive settlement”, provided that this happens in areas where the tree has already had three cuts. The complaint is made by the Left Block, which wants this contest canceled.

In the extensive area covered by this contest are all the municipalities of the Pinhal Interior affected by the fires that began last Saturday in Pedrógão Grande – and are, incidentally, classified as “first priority councils” in the application process. From the list of almost 120 municipalities, for example, Pedrógão Grande, Pampilhosa da Serra, Penacova, Castanheira de Pera, Figueiró dos Vinhos, Góis, Sertã, Leiria, Coimbra, Condeixa-a-Nova, Celorico de Basto, Mortágua, Oleiros , Vila Nova de Poiares.

In the map that accompanies the advertisement, almost all the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, Porto, Aveiro, Coimbra and Leiria, as well as a large area of ​​the districts of Viseu, Castelo Branco, Santarém and Lisbon.

According to the announcement dated 9th of this month and signed by the manager of Portugal 2020, the applications opened on the 12th and last until 31 July. The objective of the support is “to promote the economic value and competitiveness of wood and non-wood forest products”.

To the journalists, deputy blocker Pedro Soares said that it is an “incomprehensible situation that the Government insists on the financing of eucalyptus trees when there is a certain consensus on the planning of the plantation, when all the experts point out the need to bet on a forest mosaic that incorporates species autochthonous and hardwood “.

And he recalled the Executive’s own proposal for forest reform: “It is contradictory to discuss diplomas that aim to control eucalyptus trees and the Portugal 2020 program to give nine million euros to be planted in areas considered to be at great risk.”

“To finance at this level the plantation of eucalyptus trees is completely out of touch with the reality and the moment when the reform of the floretas is being debated,” insisted the Deputy of the Block. Therefore, he argues that this application process should be “suspended” and promises to tell the Government at a meeting scheduled shortly. What is needed is that in the councils affected by this latest fire “a forestry planning policy is already carried out” because the forest situation “is chaotic”. “The more you densify the forest, the denser the problems, and the harder it will be to fight the fires.”

The Minister of Agriculture was quick to respond to the Block. In Coimbra, about the suspension of the competition, said that the Government’s forestry policy “is not dependent on pressure or the media agenda.” And on the eucalyptus itself, he explained that the Government will not defend the expansion of the eucalyptus area, quite the contrary, the idea is to stop it, “but in less area, produce more raw material, for an industry that represents two thousand million euros of exports, “he added.

“What we want is to order the Portuguese forest, to manage it professionally, to continue to produce pine, eucalyptus wood. Contrary to what happened in the past, when the eucalyptus plantation was liberalized and everyone could plant wherever they wanted. that we want is not to allow more area, but in that area where we allow, be done with rules, “he said. 

“Areas covered by the species Eucalyptus globulus in which it represents at least 75% of existing tree species and are underproduction are eligible ,” the document reads.

Eligible for this support are the costs of re-planting eucalyptus after cutting, but also the “destruction of stumps, planting, re-fertilization, fertilization and their materials”, as well as the “construction and maintenance of road network and divisional” (so-called fire-fighting), and expenses with the bureaucratic process of obtaining forest management certification.

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