“We work to bring together the forestry sector, show its socioeconomic contributions to the area, its value to the environment, and keep rural areas populated.”
The fourth vice president and minister of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Rivera, wanted to kick-off the official start of the campaign against wildfires, as is customary for the responsible minister, by visiting the National Forest Fire Information and Coordination Center. There, she emphasized two issues: on one end, the importance of the investment in means of fire extinction and prevention activities, and on another end, the necessity to bring together the forestry sector and show its socioeconomic contributions. The ministry´s fire-fighting budget is 85 million euros, consisting of 1,000 employees and 73 aircraft, with the BRIF as their main reference point on the ground when the states need to use them.
Teresa Ribera justified the budget of 85 million euros, saying “this annual investment, together with the contributions of the CCAA, is a necessary budget, but one that must go along with greater awareness and preventive actions on the part of all citizens».
The forestry policy, following current legislation, has been passed to this Ministry from the Ministry of Agriculture. This forms a new general focus with the policy of biodiversity under the name of the General Office of Biodiversity, Forests and Desertification. It is, as such, the first time that the vice president has talked of forestry policy and the fight against fires as a large responsibility. “To prevent is not to only prune the forests, protection is achieved by investing in forest management, in utilizing the wilderness in its fullest sense.” She continued that her ministry works in the revision of documents planning the Spanish forestry policy: The Spanish Forestry Strategy and the Spanish Forestry Plan.
She made a message, repeated many times by the forestry sector as one of the principal values of the wilderness, her own: it contributes environmental goods and services, as well as having the capacity to generate employment, now that a “green” economic recuperation is in place. “In this Ministry, we work to conserve and protect our wilderness. But, as well, to maintain the forestry sector, to show socioeconomic contribution to the aera, its value to the environment, and build up its potential to keep rural areas populated, creating added value and quality employment”, concluded the vice president.
An 85 million euro budget for the campaign against wildfires
This is the annual budget of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, without counting the salary of the bureaucrats, for the campaign against wildfires. The mains parts are:
• Air means that have a budget of 107 million euros for the next two years, in the case of waterplanes and for three years, in the case of helicopters.
• BRIFs, managed by Tragsa, a public company, has a new agreement with the Ministry for more than 157 million euros over the next four years. In this campaign, they are launching a new labor agreement that recognizes them under the category of forestry firefighters and some job improvements, largely demanding for the collective of their workers, captured in the agreement, amongst those that work twelve months of the year.
In total, there are approximately 1,000 professionals that will work in this campaign, being amongst them technicians, pilots and mechanics of aircraft, personnel from forestry brigades and air bases, and Ministry workers.
The means of the Ministry are:
• 10 forest fire reinforcement brigades (BRIF).
The BRIFs are located in Laza (Orense), Tineo (Asturias), Tabuyo del Monte (León), Pinofranqueado (Cáceres), La iglesuela (Toledo), Puerto de El Pico (Ávila), Lubia (Soria), Daroca (Zaragoza) , Prado de los Esquiladores (Cuenca) and Puntagorda (La Palma Island).
For the 2020 summer campaign, the MITECO is making 22 government aircraft available.
• 18 Canadair Amphibious Airplanes
5,500 and 6,000 liter load capacity. Float is operated by the 43 Airforce Group following an agreement renewed at this time between MITECO and the Ministry of Defense.
The planes will be deployed in 7 phases (A Coruña, Zaragoza, Baleares, Salamanca, Málaga, Torrejón de Ardoz y Badajoz).
• 4 BK-117 Helicopters
Part of MITECO, operated by the Spanish national police (Guardia Civil). They do not take part in extinguishment jobs, they are an element of support of other activities in defending against wildfires, guaranteeing the availability of support during this campaign.
As well, for this campaign, el MITECO has contracted 51 aircraft of the following characteristics:
• 8 Kamov K32A 11 BC Firefighting Helicopters
During this summer campaign, they will be available in the bases in Plasencia del Monte (Huesca), Ibias (Asturias), Tenerife Sur (Tenerife), Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia), Huelma (Jaén), La Almoraima (Cádiz), Plasencia (Cáceres) y El Serranillo (Guadalajara). Its load capacity is 4,500 liters of water. They will operate for four months.
• 19 transport and extinction helicopters
Twin turbine helicopters, with a load capacity of 1,200 liters and in charge of the transportation of the BRIF. They will operate for four months.
• 6 Fire Boss AT-802 amphibious airplanes
With 3,100 liters of load capacity, they will operate in pairs for a period of 3 months, based in Reus (Tarragona), Requena (Valencia) y Rosinos de la Requejada (Zamora).
• 10 Airtractor AT-802 cargo planes on the ground
With 3.100 liters of load capacity, they will be located in the following bases: 2 in Ampuria Brava (Girona), 2 in Agoncillo (La Rioja), 1 in Niebla (Huelva), 1 in Son Bonet (Baleares), 2 in Xinzo de Limia( Ourense), 1 in Pamplona (Navarra9 and 1 in La Gomera (Islas Canarias). They will operate for 3 months.
• 4 Coordination and Observation Airplanes (COA)
They will work form 4 bases: León, Talavera la Real (Badajoz), Zaragoza (Muchamiel) y Alicante.
• 4 Unmanned aircraft (RPAS)
They Will be in four bases: Rabanal del Camino (León), Cáceres, Zaragoza y Albacete.
• 7 Analisis and Planning Mobile Units
Property of MITECO, they are all-terrain vehicles with an automated meteorological station and communications team in charge of providing support, through images sent from the COA and information meteorological, to the director of extinction. The APMUs will be located in Laza (Orense), Rabanal del Camino (León), Cáceres, Zaragoza, Valencia, Albacete, and Sevilla.