MADRID – While south-eastern Europe is ravaged by severe forest fires, Spain seems to be getting away relatively well. Nevertheless, so far this year, 37,535 hectares of forest have gone up in flames in the country.
That is more than 16,000 hectares more than in all of 2020. It should be noted that 2020 was the year of repeated mobility restrictions in order to cope with the corona pandemic. This has greatly reduced the number of fires. In comparison, in the ‘normal year’ 2019, flames across Spain reduced 58,209 hectares of forest to ashes. This is apparent from data provided by the Ministry of Ecological Transition.
The ministry’s data shows that from January to the end of July, 5,613 fires have been registered. Of these, 3,654 incidents can be called ‘fires’ because the affected area was smaller than 1 hectare.
Nearly 2,000 fires destroyed more than 1 hectare of forest. Of these, 11 fires exceeded 500 hectares. As such, they fall into the category of ‘large forest fires’. In total, the fires have so far reached 0.135% of the rural area.
In terms of vegetation type, most of the burned area (23,104 ha) was scrub and open forest; 10,693.33 hectares of forest area and 3,737.9 hectares of meadows and fields.
Open woodland destroyed
The northwest of Spain has been hit relatively hard so far this year with 46.16% of the total burned surface. Of all fires in this area, flames destroyed nearly 36% of open woodland and scrub, and 53.6% involved forests.
Meanwhile, 34.81% of the fires occurred inland where 28% burned open woodland and 26 percent burned forests. In the Mediterranean, the burnt area made up 18.6% of the total.
Finally, the situation of the Canary Islands stands out, where 0.43% of claims are made, 24.36% of the national total burnt open forest, and 8.28% of forest cover.