Could the fires in the Landes forest have been avoided?

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[EN VIDÉO] What causes forest fires in France?
Each year, 15,000 hectares of vegetation go up in smoke in France. 90% of forest fires are of human origin, and one in two is the result of carelessness.

More than 14,000 hectares of Landes forest have already gone up in smoke in the Gironde department since the start of two fires “extreme and exceptional” last week. Evacuation orders were given. The Teste-de-Buch zoo has decided to shelter its animals near the Bordeaux metropolis. And the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service of Gironde (Sdis 33) fears that the forest will become a real “powder keg”.

How did we get here ? Drought, first, with a prolonged rainfall deficit. And a terribly dry first half of July. A percentage of water vapour in L’air incredibly low, too.

The heat, then. She too has reigned supreme over the region for several days already.

Finally, the wind which also continues to blow over the Landes forest. A powerful and changing wind that fanned the flames and made the work of firefighters even more difficult.

An unfortunate combination of extreme conditions made more frequent and intense by the climate change anthropogenic. To prevent this from happening again in the future, there is only one solution: stop burning fossil fuels!

But in the meantime, we will have to adapt. And some believe today that, in the Landes forest, everything has not been done, precisely, to adapt the upkeep and management of the massif to the new conditions imposed on it by our thirst for oil.

Controversial maintenance work

It must first be recognized that the management of the Landes forest is a bit of a headache. Because it belongs, for the most part, to private owners. It is divided into no less than 40,000 plots! The problem is that, contrary to what is happening everywhere else in France, in the Teste-de-Buch forest, the one that is going up in smoke at this very moment, it is not quite sole owner who is responsible for maintenance. An exception that comes from Middle Ages. From another time. From a time when it was necessary to obtain the agreement of all the owners of the forest to carry out maintenance operations. Some 500 owners, you imagine…

Then enter the scene “users”, understand, the locals. For 600 years, they have had the authorization to exploit the wood of these forests. Even if they don’t belong to them. The owners could exploit the resin. But the resin has been worth nothing for a long time. So when owners filed in 2020 a ” management plan “ which allowed them to value the wood that could be cut to widen the paths firewall — while committing to replanting — the users revolted. You see, the owners hoped to get rich at their expense…

And in 2021, a third thief invites himself to the party. The users of the Teste-de-Buch forest have obtained political support. the ” management plan “ submitted by the owners is stopped dead. An investigation is requested. In January of this year, she concludes that “the maintenance of the forest and cultural heritage that the forest constitutes will go through an adaptation” of the system still in force and 600 years old “to the current socio-economic context”. Last spring, the State therefore launched an operation to clean the fire trails. The Association for the Defense of the Rights of Use and the User Forest (ADDUFU) organized a demonstration to oppose it…

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