The Portuguese Republic and the United States of America signed this afternoon a memorandum of understanding that strengthens cooperation between the two countries in matters related to rural fires. At the national level, the AGIF (Agency for Integrated Rural Fire Management) will be the coordinating entity, while the National Interagency Coordination Center will coordinate on the US side.
This agreement will allow for more efficient cooperation in knowledge and resources for rural fire management, ranging from joint training on fire suppression, research on prevention and risk reduction, and post-fire soil and water restoration.
Through this memorandum of understanding, other entities in both countries involved in rural fire suppression will be able to cooperate directly, sharing best practices and the most advanced technical and scientific knowledge. The two countries want to strengthen bilateral scientific and humanitarian cooperation, and their mutual commitment to fighting rural fires, saving lives and livelihoods.
Randi Charno Levine, US Ambassador, recalled the enormous human, material and natural losses that forest fires bring to both countries.
“This memorandum allows collaboration at various levels, and can become a tool for change in people’s lives,” she stressed.
The president of AGIF, Tiago Oliveira, recalls that the collaboration between Portugal and the United States already has several years, stressing that the signing of this memorandum is a “historic milestone.”
“This is another level of collaboration, which opens channels for various entities (National Emergency Civil Protection Authority, Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, I.P., GNR, PJ, IPMA, Fire Department, Forestry Producers Organization, Universities, among others) in the management of rural fires, allowing the exchange of knowledge, research, and resources,” he explains.
The United States has been working with AGIF to develop a training and qualification strategy in command and control operations focused on rural fires. In October 2022, U.S. Forest Service experts from a “Burned Area Emergency Response Team” spent two weeks in Serra da Estrela with officials from the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) to rehabilitate more than 303,000 square kilometers of fire-damaged land and restore drinking water sources for 2.5 million people in Portugal.