Wild fires

Montgó Fire

In September 2014, The Montgó natural Park suffered and extensive wildfire. This affected natural areas and properties on the edge of the Park in Denia and Jávea.
The public response to this event was naturally overwhelmingly negative, with blame being heaped in all directions. Lessons can be learned and perhaps a change of attitude towards wildfires would be useful.

Meeting between Mayor Chulvi and Montgo residents association

Fire- Montgo Residents Association meeting . Oct 2014

Granadella fire

In September 2016 the Forestry park of la Granadella was incinerated following years of drought. The park had previously burned in 2000, but at that time little propery was affected. In 2016 there was added concern that the area would be prey to developers following a recent change in the law. However the regional Government had already overturned the controversial law, and Granadella was already under a level of protection.
Here is some information about the regulations governing Javea's protected spaces.

The main problem with the 2016 fire is that it severely damaged residential areas (particularly Pinosol), which adds a new dimension to the management of wildfires in the future.

… fire likely to have been caused by negligence
Oct 6th 2016
Valencia Government delegate, Juan Carlos Moragues has suggested that the Granadella fire was most likely caused by a negligent cigarette butt. Many butts were seen at the Cumbre viewing point where the fire started, and cinders could well have been blown kilometres. From: La Marina Plaza Also confirmed by the Guardia Civil see: Portal Mas. The subsequent foci are considered to have been secondary fires, apart from the one at Saladar which was "independent".

Experts from the Mediterranean Centre for Environmental studies agreed large burned tree trunks could be removed - but with utmost care particularly on steep slopes, so as to not adversely affect the soil. The finer material should be left behind as a protective layer for the soil, and the removed burned timbers crushed and redistributed over the land as an additional buffer against high ground temperatures. This method was used successfully in the Montgó fire. Trees in high risk areas e.g. beside roads should be removed. In the long term, a preventive silviculture could be used .e.g. planting mature oaks and other native species. The Mediterranean Centre for Environmental Studies, based in Paterna, has conducted numerous studies on reforestation and issued manuals for action based on scientific criteria from experience of 250 fires over 500 hectares in the Valencia region between 1968 and 2013.

Background Info

The Ecology of Wildfires in the Mediterranean

"The Nature of Mediterranean Europe - An Ecological History" by A.T. Grove and Oliver Rackham (2003)

Here are the first two pages of the chapter on Wildfires:The authors worked on MEDALUS - The EU MEditerranean Desertification And Land Use programmes , and as a result of their studies have developed challenging views on the ecology and land use in Mediterranean regions.

Click on the image to see an enlarged version.


We jump to the Conclusions of the Chapter..

Page 238: Conclusions:

"Fire is a natural part of many Mediterranean ecosystems, but people leave it out of their calculations and plans. It comes as a surprise which repitition does little to diminish. It threatens human life when people insist on building houses among fiery vegetation. Foresters grow flammable trees and expect them to reach timber size in the intervals between fires.

Experience in California shows that fire cannot be eliminated by any action short of eliminating combustible vegetation. Attempts to suppress fires merely accumulate fuel to cause super-conflagrations later. Although the plants are different, the Mediterranean behaves similarly. Cyprus in the twentieth century, when there was a struggle between shepherds and foresters that the foresters eventually won, shows that to suppress browsing can result in a fire dominated landscape.
We are unsure how the present frequencies of fires and conflagrations are related to those of a century ago or of aboriginal times. Fires seldom happen for the first time in long-established vegetation that has never burnt before..(continued below)


Recent Large wildfires in this area

Granadella 2016 689 hectares
Bollula / Tarbena 2016 600 hectares
Montgó: Aug 1999 - 400 hectares El Pais report
Montgó May 2014 - 40 hectares
Montgó Sept 2014 - 444 hectares
Pego/Val de Ebo 2015 - 1.715 hectares
Val de Alcalá / Gallinera July 2009
Val de Pop (Murla)
Tossal Gros 1993
Bolbaite 2016 - 1535.7 hectares CEAM report
Carcaixent 2016 - 2010 hectares CEAM report
Terrateig 2016
Benifairó de les Valls 2016
Artana 2016

Technical Guidelines for infrastructure in urbanised areas



This is a useful reference document concerning the prevention of Forest Fires in the Polinyá area of the Comunidad Valenciana. -
Click on image to enlarge:

Comunidad Valenciana manuals regarding Forest Fire prevention


Plataforma Forestal

An association of public and private bodies interested in sustainable forestry

The curious case of Valencia's flameproof cypresses


August 14th 2012
When Bernabé Moya, director of forests for the provincial delegation of Valencia, revealed the image, his botanist colleagues could not believe their eyes. A clump of 946 cypress trees, each nine meters tall, had resisted the fire that had devastated 20,000 hectares around the Valencia town of Andilla in July unscathed. The photo clearly showed a 9,000-square-meter area of cypresses, which had been planted 22 years ago in Jérica, between Valencia and Castellón provinces. All around, a devastated lunar landscape, where almost no vestige remained of the pine, oak, holm oak, juniper and gorse trees that had been consumed by the flames. The mystery, and what it might mean, has reopened the debate surrounding forest regeneration. While some experts are in favor of employing cypresses as natural firebreaks, others reject the idea of planting species that are alien to the native habitat. For full story see: El Pais in English

Ed's note: However, this is thought to have been the result of local topography and terrain, and that the fire resistance of cypress is actually a myth.

CEAM: Mediterranean Centre for Environmental studies

"The Mediterranean Center for Environmental Studies (CEAM) is a centre of research, development and technological innovation to improve the natural environment in the Mediterranean.

Our activities are focused on providing comprehensive proposals for environmental management in the domain of the atmosphere, ecosystems, human activities and their interactions. This requires the participation of multidisciplinary teams who have accurate knowledge to describe and understand natural processes and those amended by human activities with the purpose of developing and offering sustainable management options that adapt to Mediterranean conditions.

Our scientific and technical team includes experts in meteorology and climate, atmospheric chemistry and air pollutants dynamics, numerical simulation, high-precision analytical instruments for laboratory and field use, the carbon cycle, ecosystems dynamics, fire ecology and forest restoration"

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