25% of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, the largest protected area in Portugal, was affected this summer by several forest fires with “very significant” negative effects in areas of “high ecological sensitivity.”
The data was advanced by the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF for its acronym in Portuguese), which records that in July and August there were five large fires that devastated 28,112 hectares, of which 22,065 belonged to the park.
Most of the damage was caused by the devastating fire that broke out on August 6 and was not considered fully controlled until twelve days later.
“The fires caused very significant negative effects in places of high ecological sensitivity,” says the ICNF, which recalls that in the area affected by the flames there are several endemic species.
Among mammals, populations of wild cats, Iberian desmans and various communities of chiropteran species were affected.
The Institute highlights the damage suffered by different species of invertebrates, “some endemic to the Serra da Estrela and others whose only known locality in Portugal is located in the Natural Park area”, as well as by the mountain lizard.
The fire also affected bird populations such as the black stork, golden eagles, Bonelli’s and short-toed eagles, peregrine falcons, Montagu’s harriers, rock thrushes and short-toed pipits.
More than 9,000 hectares of wild pine and more than 2,600 of oak burned.
The last great fire, which lasted twelve days, spread through six municipalities, which assured this week that the losses amount to “hundreds of millions of euros.”
The virulence and duration of the fire have sparked criticism of the fighting in the country.
Even so, the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said on Wednesday that it is not yet time to analyze whether it is necessary to ask for responsibilities, since it is necessary to wait for the end of the annual fire season.
The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is the largest protected area in Portugal and is located in the center of the country, about 50 kilometers from the border with the Spanish provinces of Salamanca and Cáceres.