Antonio Toral: “For the rapid recovery of the Sierra Larga, it will be necessary to act as soon as possible”

“The forest has a natural capacity, but it can be benefited by the creation of massifs of logs and partial removal of dead wood”


We are all a little poorer since last Saturday, August 27, the last big forest fire we had to suffer this year in Jumilla broke out in the Sierra Larga, and which is added to that which occurred only two weeks before in the district of La Patoja, halfway between the territories of Jumilla and Hellín and the regions of Murcia and Albacete.


The fire

The Sierra Larga fire has become the worst so far this year in the Murcia region. A devastating fire, started by a lightning strike during an electrical storm the night before, which lay dormant in the early hours of the day until, in the middle of that fateful Saturday, it finally manifested itself. It is difficult to understand that something like this could happen, that nature itself, and in such a capricious way, could initiate such devastation, but the pine on which the lightning fell was quickly identified, and there was no doubt as to the causes of the beginning of this fatal ecological catastrophe.



From this point on the fire progressed slowly in its first moments, as it was hardly pushed by the prevailing winds, which in these preludes to the disaster were not too pronounced or intense. But the context of climate change and global warming that we are suffering and experiencing with unusual intensity and never seen or known before has decisively contributed to changing the course of a fire that, like so many others—which in other years and seasons they even do not go beyond public opinion, as they remain in the near future, when they can be controlled and extinguished in their first moments – eventually became a large-scale forest fire that exceeded the capacity of the media, which with all possible speed and force they appeared in the first moments at the scene of the accident.


“Unstoppable Hell”

The general desiccation condition of the vegetation, the high prevailing temperatures and the strong convection currents generated by the fire itself – stronger as it continued to grow – were the perfect breeding ground for this incipient fire, which eventually turned into after a few hours in an unstoppable hell of destruction and also of anxiety. But even so, nature itself, when this devastating scenario was at its most apocalyptic and it seriously threatened to spread to the neighboring mountain ranges of Santa Ana and Sopalmo and the nearby area of ​​Hornillo, wanted to provide a window of opportunity to the numerous media that were working with the entire intensity and force possible at the scene, and a sudden and unexpected change in the direction of the wind – which shifted from a south-west to a north-east direction – allowed a direct and simultaneous attack by land and air assets on the active and dangerous front of the fire, which made it possible stopping the disaster — or a bigger disaster — and by 5:45 p.m. on that fateful Saturday in August, the media on the ground were already confident that the fire would be stabilized and thus avoid the worst-case scenario.

There are many more hours of firefighting and stabilization of the perimeter of the fire, which will continue to be active and with small outbreaks until it is deemed extinguished on Thursday, September 1.


410 hectares of Mediterranean forest composed of a beautiful and mature mantle of Aleppo pine and its corresponding undergrowth, formed in turn by esparto, forest oak, mastic, hawthorn, rosemary and thyme mainly, adding to all this the specific communities that inhabit the base of the characteristic vertical walls of the Sierra Larga. And within the fauna, various birds of prey are affected, such as a pair of golden eagles and other species such as foxes, mountain goats, rabbits, hares, badgers, etc.


All this brings with it a number of consequences, such as a serious risk of soil erosion, an apparent loss of biodiversity and a reduction in forest mass, which is now more than ever needed as a CO2 sequestration barrier in the context of devastating droughts and extreme temperatures. Adding to this the loss of landscape and ecological heritage and the consequences this brings to society as a whole.


The actions to be taken are determined by the natural ability of the forest itself to regenerate. This can be mainly facilitated by the creation of strips of trunks in the places most susceptible to erosion and the partial removal of dead wood.
These two actions would be the most important and should be done as soon as possible, because by the time the area starts to regenerate naturally, any action with heavy machinery would already damage or hinder said regeneration.
A regeneration that will take nature no less than 100 years until the devastated forest reaches its former magnificent state, although and as a positive aspect to be considered, in just one year this black that colors the affected areas, and also depending on the rainfall, it should start to take on a pale green color, which should gain intensity over time.

The cycle of life always takes over in the end, and that’s what you’re left with. Man seems to be above everything, but we are nothing more than a tiny and yet transcendent piece in the glass puzzle of our fragile world, the only known one that allows us life and provides us with oxygen. We live in convulsive and uncertain times, but we must reconsider, the crossroads is constant and covers many fronts, and man must be convinced that he must be part of the solution and never more of the problem.
Life will be in constant balance with what surrounds us. Or it won’t. Just.

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