Fires are a scourge that every summer assault the world. We focus on fires in Portugal, which is the country where this problem is bigger in South Europe (the total burned area over the total area of the country is bigger than in France, Italy, Greece and Spain).
First of all, we should understand the development of fires through time. Data about the number of fires and the total burned area (in hectares) from 1980 until 2010 was collected. The moving average of 7 years was calculated, and it was possible to observe that the number of fires and their dimension have been increasing during the years although a decrease in the last few years can be noticed; nevertheless it is important to point out that most of the decrease observable in the moving average charts are due to the fact that in 2008 there were very few fires. What can explain this increase is now the most important question. Therefore, we decided to investigate the relationship between temperature and fires.
After we discovered that this is not a significant variable to explain fires, we tried to look at the political agenda, to see if would affect the number of fires. To do so we ran a simple regression that turned out to be insignificant, but nevertheless suggested a positive correlation between fires and elections, and for that reason we suggest further investigation in that direction.
In a nutshell, causes of fires are still not identified, which makes it harder to create an effective policy. Nevertheless, Portugal has been developing several interventions in the forest sector, such as the creation of an environmental fund, the Fundo Florestal Permanente (FFP).
The FFP was the first environmental fund in Portugal. It was created in 2004 due to an increased concern about sustainable forest management. It is managed by Instituto de Financiamento da Agricultura e Pescas (IFAP), part of Ministério da Agricultura, Desenvolvimento Rural e Pescas, and it is financed mainly by a part of the tax on petroleum products: 0,005€/l of petrol and 0,0025€/l of diesel, limited by 30 millions euros/year.
FFP finances activities that develop its goals through subsidies, credit lines, guarantees and insurances. Its main beneficiaries are municipalities and other public entities responsible for forestry administration as well as associations of forest owners. Since 2004, the volume of subsidies increased rapidly, but from 2010 onwards it has been decreasing. We could not find data about the projects financed. This lack of transparency should be a motive of concern since it is not possible to ensure that this money is being efficiently used.
Maria Martins – 540
Sofia Amaral – 538