The Agency for the Integrated Management of Rural Fires (AGIF) delivered on June 9 in the Assembly of the Republic the “Activity Report of the Integrated Rural Fire Management System – 2021”.

This report results from the monitoring of projects in which dozens of entities participate, and the results now reported are a consequence of teamwork.

AGIF reports publicly in accordance with its strategic coordination duties of the Integrated Rural Fire Management System (SGIFR).

Portugal invested 316 million euros in rural fire risk management, not accounting for the involvement of local government and landowners. This investment was 9% more than in 2020 and represents a distribution of 46% in prevention and 54% in suppression.

By the end of 2021, 78 of the 97 projects of the National Action Program (PNA) had been developed, putting the level of ongoing projects at 80%, with 60 of the 128 targets planned for the year to be achieved in 2021.

Last year, vegetation management was carried out on around 88,000 hectares, 25% more than in 2020 and the highest figure to date. The target is 300,000 hectares/year to be reached by 2026. Since the vast majority of the areas to be managed are privately owned, it is essential to mobilize them.

The aggregation of owners through the Integrated Landscape Management Areas represented 2.5% of the forest spaces, while the Forest Intervention Zones and Baldios already represent 2.3 million hectares, located north of the Tagus and with an expression that represents almost 50% of the areas to be intervened.

It was elaborated and delivered the National Qualification Plan SGIFR with the definition of the parameters to perform functions in the System and in parallel, was completed the formation of priority profiles through the ANEPC / National School of Firefighters, GNR and IPMA, with more than 64 000 hours and 5 700 SGIFR agents trained. In addition to the joint training, the GNR trained 155 Forest Guards, the ICNF recruited and trained 40 elements for the Forest Fire Sappers Force and received from AGIF, about 36 senior technicians with specialized training in rural fire management, planning, project management and leadership.

There was a reduction in the number of fires by 15% compared to the previous year and a reduction in 38% of intentional fires. The use of fire continues to be the main cause of rural fires, accounting for 56% of the total, motivated by the elimination of agricultural surpluses and renewal of pastures. However, the causes associated with intentionality contributed to 41% of the burned area.

Citizens are aware of the management of vegetation around their homes, and the “Safe Village, Safe People” programme, after the limitations of the pandemic showed slight growth in 2021, with 2,064 villages covered – 76 (+4%) more than in 2020.

In 2021, the suppression device defined by ANEPC was reinforced with more firefighters and sappers, which represent an equal proportion, with about 12,000 elements, of which 69% are already professionals. In an already consolidated process, the 59 air assets were managed by the Air Force.

There was a decrease in the impacts of rural fires with fewer human lives to mourn (6), fewer fires (8,223) and less burned area (28,415 ha).

Exceeding the provisions of the National Action Program of the National Plan for Integrated Management of Rural Fires, 93% of the fires were extinguished in an initial attack and with an average time of arrival at the theatre of operations of 16 minutes. The rekindling rate saw its value set at 2%, a favourable value below the 5% target.