Prescribed fire for Nature Conservation

Wait… What? Yes! Fire can also be a great resource in terms of nature conservation!

On Tuesday 12th January, we had a first-hand opportunity to experience a controlled fire in Baldio-Carvalhais, one of Montis bigger properties.

For months, us as volunteers have been working in the field creating containment paths for this event. It was not a simple task. First, the path must be decided considering where the plantations are, so the minimum harm is implied there. Protecting oaks and other species was a priority task and we put all our efforts there. Then, you literally need to create the path using the hoes, and then the hardest part: cleaning all the vegetation for avoiding any risk of fire propagation.

We woke up very early that day, we all were very excited but also nervous for checking if our work was good enough. We arrive to the property and the excitement was even more present. Experience and not experience Portuguese firemen, prescribed burning technicians and even the press was there. Not every day you see the field on fire! After the proper meeting, we went to the first part of the path for starting the fire. Ashes, flames and a lot of security surrounded us, and we all were so ready for action if it was needed.

We spent the day taking pictures, helping around with the food logistics and checking that all the firemen needed were on place. It is a weird feeling to see the huge flames and smoke columns in such a short distance from you, devouring the oaks you once pruned, but we all knew it was for a better cause. It was a shame we could not protect them all, but what fire does to the soil is more advantageous because the nutrients are kept under the ashes so it is amazing for planting there before spring.

This prescribed fire was above all, the result of team work, and the goal was achieved satisfactorily. We could not be happier to hear that from the firemen chief, because knowing that all the efforts were compensated, it was more than a reward for us.

Thank you so much Montis especially Margarida and Hugo, for their hard work and for letting us be part of this experience, because it was a lifetime opportunity for us to experience such an action like this in a safe way. We have learnt not only that we can use lethal tools for creating something good, but also how every single task counts to achieve the goals. Now we are starting to plant and seed oaks there, and we already cannot wait for the result!

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