It takes very little, simple carelessness, to cause a fire capable of reducing thousands of hectares of forest to ashes in a few hours. An improvised barbecue, a badly extinguished cigarette, non-secured work… Even when it is not a voluntary gesture, linked to a land use conflict, a simple spark is enough.
France, the fourth most forested European country, seems to be designated prey for forest fires. Its large forested areas, particularly in the Mediterranean and Landes, cover more than 30% of its territory. The summers are relatively dry and characterized by high temperatures, sometimes coupled with strong and persistent winds, particularly around the Mediterranean. In these circumstances, why does France not experience dramatic fires, such as those that recently ravaged Portugal or Greece?
Before providing any answers to this question, we need to moderate this observation. During the 20th century, France was the scene of several catastrophic fires and each year it experiences numerous outbreaks of fires and fires of limited size. But, indeed, the areas concerned, and the human and economic impact of these events are relatively limited.
This is due to the adoption of a Forest Fire Protection Policy (DFCI), whose effectiveness is now internationally recognized. It is composed of specific mechanisms, which bring together different participants in fire prevention and control: the fire brigade, of course, but also officials from the National Forestry Office, and different departmental and intermunicipal structures.
The example of Landes
The public authorities began with this observation: when it comes to forest fires, nothing beats prevention. This is divided into three main areas. Pedagogy with the populations, the meshing of the territory and the development of the massifs. As an example, in the Landes forest, awareness campaigns are regularly organised and specific signage is put in place in the areas most sensitive to the risk of man-made fires
Very significant investments have been made in infrastructure. 22,000 km of trails have been traced in the Landes massif by foresters, according to very specific criteria (road width, shoulders, safety brush strip, etc.). They allow firefighters to intervene in less than 20 minutes at any outbreak of fire. These kilometres of trails are maintained throughout the year by forest owners (the Landes massif is almost entirely privately owned)
1500 water points have been set up in the forest. When it is not accessible by drilling, basins have been created or tanks placed in strategic locations. 45 rescue centres link the massif. 19 watchtowers (40m high and 15 to 20km apart) also appeared. A program for automatic detection and location of fires by video surveillance has also been implemented.
The preservation of the Landes de Gascogne forest is the result of major and sustained efforts. It is based on the strong involvement of the State and the strong mobilization of landowners. This system has so far proven its effectiveness. DRT Purextract®, which produces its Oligopin® and Cosmythic® maritime pine extracts from trees that are grown in the Landes region, is also part of this approach, which, by empowering all public and private stakeholders, benefits everyone.
Oligopin® and Cosmythic® are French maritime pine bark extracts titrated in low molecular wheight OPCs. Find out more about their efficiency on well being and beauty on www.theoriginalpinebarkextract.com
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