Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dangerous trees

Northern California isn't the only region experiencing perilous wildfires in this season of weather disasters. Four people have died in scattered forest fires in Galicia and Asturias in Spain in the last few days. (That's where we walked on pilgrimage during September.) Thirty-five more people are reported killed further south in Portugal. Persistent drought fueled the outbreak. Politicians want to blame arsonists. But might there be an additional factor?

While walking through this region we made a surprising observation: where farmers had until recently grown pines in wood lots meant for paper and pulp production, they are now planting eucalyptus trees. They explained that these exotics would mature in 25 years while pines required 50.

Importing eucalyptus was evidently controversial. The Australian native species can be a hazard waiting to ignite as Californians have discovered.

... eucalyptus trees can exacerbate deadly fires. Their sap is flammable, and so is their bark, which flies off when burned, igniting new fires up to 100 yards away.

L.A. Times

In Spain we saw signs of vocal opposition to imports:
These trees may be more a part of the problem than part of a solution to rural areas' economic stagnation.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Eucalyptus was touted as a replacement for sugar cane. If you drive along the Hamakua Coast you'll see great stands of eucalyptus trees, but also macadamia nut trees. Mostly, the land is still in sugar, gone wild, and houses are going up because the views are spectacular.