The Cabildo of Tenerife is working to open the mountain and the roads and trails affected by the forest fire that started on August 15 with complete safety and without risks for people and vehicles, since there are areas of very damaged radiata pine.
It is worth remembering that the fire affected the municipalities of Santa Úrsula, Arafo, Candelaria, El Rosario, El Sauzal, Fasnia, Güímar, La Matanza de Acentejo, La Orotava, La Victoria, Los Realejos and Tacoronte, it extended through a perimeter of 90 kilometers, it took more than a month to be controlled and left damage valued at more than 80 million euros.
The radiata pine, a species native to California (United States), has given technicians and forestry brigades many headaches during the fire and is the one that produced most of the fire reactivations that took place in October. The objective of the Island Corporation, even before the fire, is to eliminate it, because it has no capacity for regrowth and, therefore, it does not recover, but ends up dying and falling due to the wind – even if it is weak – or when the land becomes It becomes softer due to rain, because it has a very poor root system.
In total, 571 hectares of radiata pine were burned out of the 730 that remained within the protected natural space that they are trying to free in order to reforest with other native species, mainly Monteverde and Canarian pine, and recover the original ecosystems in these areas.
Most of these trees are damaged at the base and continue to fall on their own, causing a loud noise, but it is necessary to help them for safety, even for people who work in the mountains. Thus, those that are on the edge of tracks or that can roll on them, creating a risk for users and cars, are mainly eliminated. For this reason, the island president, Rosa Dávila, reiterated yesterday that there are tracks and trails that are still closed, because they are unsafe for the population and asked for caution and for citizens to inform themselves in advance of their conditions through official channels, such as the website on the Internet of Medio Natural of the Cabildo de Tenerife and the Tenerife ON application, which permanently updates the situation in the mountains. She also highlighted that the most urgent jobs had been contracted to recover the forest, assigned to 22 companies with an investment of 7.9 million, of the 29 million that will be invested between 2024 and 2026 for reforestation with their own resources. Dávila made these statements during a visit to three areas where these works are carried out, such as the Las Calderetas and Las Aguilillas slopes, in Ravelo, in El Sauzal, and El Rayo, in La Matanza de Acentejo, which can be reached given that there are others that the fire has left, for the moment, inaccessible to the technicians themselves.
She did so accompanied by the vice president, Lope Afonso; the Minister of Natural Environment, Sustainability and Security and Emergencies, Blanca Pérez; the insular director of Medio Natural, Pedro Millán, and the technicians Pedro Martínez, Adela Conde, Bernabé Gutiérrez, Pablo Pascual and Eva Padrón. The latter declared that if the mountain wants to be opened to people, “the first thing we have to do is make sure that no pine trees fall on public roads that could cause a risk.”
Work is being done on two types of actions, one directed in this direction and the other to avoid the risk of erosion in the basins. In the first, specific machinery is used, such as a crusher, which leaves the soil clean for future repopulation with Canary species, and a forestry processor. The big problem with these works is safety, because the burnt pine trees are constantly falling due to being undermined at the base.
To do this, there is a forestry processor equipped with a type of mechanical arm that takes those trees that are most at risk, previously marked by the technicians with a red stripe or circle, pulls them out, debranches them, removes the bark, Cut the trunk into parts, so that they can then be stacked so that the wood can be used.
This machinery has a reinforced cabin and all the elements that guarantee the safety of the operator who handles it. Repopulation is also a complex job. It requires clearing the land, making holes and digging, and has already been carried out in most of the municipality of La Orotava.
In the case of El Sauzal and La Matanza, “we are a little tight to repopulate this year because it has to be when it rains, before March,” Padrón noted. The second action is carried out in two aspects, one direct and the other indirect. In the first, a protective layer or mulching is created with crushed plant remains that come from felling and felling, or, restoring the soil with sowing and planting to encourage the regrowth of the vine. And the second uses the softest agrotechnique and consists of reducing the speed and erosive capacity of runoff as an example of containment against rain. To achieve this, barriers are created transversal to the slope with small branches of monteverde that slow down the speed of the water, by slowing down sediment, it deposits on the ground little by little and reaches the channels more slowly. “The brakes that vegetation put on us are now being done with other structures,” said Pedro Martínez, for his part.
This type of plant construction is called fajinas. However, others are also contemplated, such as filling with stone the place of existing holes in the vicinity and edges of runways caused by cracking or the formation of rows of stones placed transversally in abandoned lanes and in shallow gullies located upstream of the runways by those where water flows without brakes.
The actions are completed with dry masonry breakwaters, masonry dikes (gavionada or other techniques) and naturalized stone beds.
On the other hand, in addition to the urgent actions described, the Cabildo is carrying out others in areas at risk of landslides and mass movements and installing barriers to retain debris and stabilizing channels along forestry trails.
Likewise, Natural Environment personnel work on the construction of infrastructure to protect forest trails and carry out actions on trails and recreational areas and to repair the hydraulic networks for extinguishing forest fires affected by the fire.
All of this is completed with other technical actions, such as the generation of a new orthophoto of the burned areas, the drafting of projects, technical direction and management, safety and health support.