383 brigade members from 79 municipalities in Castellón take part in training workshops on sustainable forest management

During the month of November, AMUFOR technical staff travelled around the province of Castellón to give training workshops to the brigades of the EMERGE programme. A total of 383 brigade members from 79 municipalities attended the workshops.

The three-week workshops highlighted the need to set up risk prevention brigades, forest fires being the main risk in the rural areas of the province of Castellón, as the work they carry out helps to reduce the fuel load on the Castellón forests, thus reducing the possibility of a forest fire starting and, if it does occur, making it much less virulent, allowing the fire-fighting forces to act more efficiently and effectively on a possible fire outbreak.

On the other hand, the hiring of people living in these municipalities allows the population to settle, being predominantly from rural areas, where the risk of depopulation is high. The role played by the brigades in the territory is very important and their training is therefore essential.

In the same way, understanding that the work they implement on a daily basis has positive consequences for the environment and that their role in risk prevention helps to combat the negative effects of climate change (reducing CO2 emissions from forest fires, among others) is of great importance for the personal motivation of each member of the brigade as well as for their personal and professional development.

EMERGE 2021 brigades

The consolidation of EMERGE brigades for the year 2021 comes from a programme of subsidies of Social Initiative, aimed at the hiring of unemployed people by local corporations of the Comuntiat Valenciana, to implement actions provided for in emergency plans or procedures in the field of forestry. In addition, the resolution establishes, according to the Report-proposal of the Valencian Agency for Security and Emergency Response of 16 November 2020, that the geographical scope of the call is determined by a combination of the following factors: the risk of depopulation and the risk of forest fires and operational priority in fire extinction.

In this sense, the actions envisaged for the brigades are based on carrying out actions whose main objective is to mitigate or reduce a risk contemplated in an emergency plan for the Comunitat Valenciana as a whole or at a local level, and especially the reduction of the population risks derived from forest fires, by means of actions that favour the intervention of the extinguishing means.

The workshop programme was divided into two parts. On the one hand, the brigade members were trained in the identification and characterisation of tree and shrub species in their respective areas of action. On the other hand, the dissemination of information on the protection of forest areas and their role in the management of the risk of CO2 emissions associated with forest fires in the framework of the fight against climate change, all under the umbrella of the European Interreg Sudoe REMAS project.

It was also shown how the preservation of these protected areas and the forest fire prevention tasks carried out daily by the EMERGE brigades contribute to reducing the risk of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, which maintains the carbon stored in the plant structures and thus makes it possible to actively combat climate change.

The presentations were supported by audiovisual material, under different videos on climate change, protected natural areas, forest fires and a video explaining the Interreg Sudoe REMAS project. REMAS, among other actions, quantifies CO2 emissions to the atmosphere due to forest fires in 4 regions of Southwest Europe, 2 in Spain, one in France and one in Portugal.

In addition, both before and during the workshops, there was close collaboration with all the actors involved in them, carrying out quality joint work and materialising in the satisfaction of both the organisers of the workshops (AMUFOR, Castellón Provincial Council, Servef-LABORA, Regional Ministry of Sustainable Economy and the participating town councils) and the members of the brigades.