Fire Season 2017

The fire season is upon us. It’s the time that keeps reminding us the huge problem that this ‘country’ faces. I put country in apostraphes because I have no idea what a country is any more. I thought it had to do with culture but it appears to me that most cultures have been subverted by some idea of inspiring people to become productive economic units, and hence making a country nothing more than a corporation and it’s leaders just soulless CEO’s. I don’t know why they’re portrayed as leaders. They’re simple followers, not even smart it seems. It seems to me that Portugal has been tagged by the ‘powers that be’ as a place where we can grow lots of eucalyptus for the purpose of producing toilet paper so that the rest of Europe can wipe it’s arse with its ‘commodity’. Of course, it’s not anybody’s fault right? I mean people gotta make a living, but what if the real deal is that Portugal is being ‘encouraged’ by EU, ECB, IMF (they’re all the same thing) to produce whatever the hell they have to in order to pay back the debt that they’ve accrued with European Central Banks and so hence, encourage governments to encourage people to plant ‘unsuitable’ species here with complete disregard for informing them of the fact that they only help to degrade the soil, dry up water sources and contribute to creating infernos that kill off whatever wildlife this ‘country’ has (and now even people, by literally creating roads to hell – roadsides just deep with eucalyptus plantation). Let’s also try and imagine how much it costs Portuguese government to fight all these fires and where does all that money come from? Furthering the depth of debt and death. Anyone with some kind of conspiracy mind could possibly think that it’s end game is to create a land grab scenario where those with all the cash can come in and buy up land for pennies in the dollar, once the ‘government’ fails its ‘debt obligations’. It’s happened before, and hasn’t that already happened to Greece? Of course a lot of that is just my own twisted suspicions and I’m obviously having a good rant.

There are others out there who’ve done more research it and come up with interesting conclusions / views. Here is an excerpt from EXCERPT from Doug Crouch’s article titled ‘A Holistic Perspective on How the Fires in Portugal Came to be and Where we Go from Here‘ …

Thus basically what the EU does is offer a subsidy for a particular crop selection and people jump on it and an industry is developed. Henceforth, when this EU policy was instituted and intensified over the years, what a great solution to no markets for traditional crops or being an absentee landlord.  Simply drop some forestry trees in through signing a contract spurred by EU subsidies, wait until the forestry crops were ready years later, and receive fat royalties for doing nothing other than selling out the ecosystem.  Thus the industry grew in its power and control as people could not sell land in Portugal because who wanted to move to this forgotten, economically depressed country struggling to catch up with the rest of the world.  It’s not like that way now as foreigners are fleeing inwards to these regions for a self-sufficient lifestyle outside of their mainly northern European locales.  But the damage was done already before they arrived.

Here is another good article worth reading regarding other forces that are tied in with making Eucalyptus a huge monocrop here in Portugal …

The Eucalypt Invasion of Portugal

Personally I think that if you are coming to Portugal as some kind of get away, somewhere to live the good life. You better think twice. It’s not for the weak of heart, and if you’re not coming here to become part of the solution, then you may only end up becoming an innocent victim, or potentially even part of the problem. I would suggest that you come prepared. Last year fire in Portugal destroyed nearly 116,000 hectares and accounted for half of all forests destroyed by fire in EU. There are many stories behind how these fires start, I could try and go into all the stories that I’ve read and heard but here is someone that may have a little more to say about it then me: Hernâni Carvalho – Há uma indústria do Fogo escondida dos Portugueses.

Sadly, the other day a fire started on my neighbour’s land, with a steel blade brushcutter, so yes, these things do happen, and sometimes they are accidents – however the use of steel blades on brushcutters, as well as toppers (capinadeira) on tractors have been prohibited during high fire risk season and incurs at minimum a hefty fine. Be aware. My farm was so lucky to have survived this incident. First of all the wind was going in the opposite direction (which is opposite of the normal prevailing winds), however it was still crept towards mine. Luckily we managed to get the call out early and were eventually received with several fire trucks, followed by one helicopter, then 2 planes along with 8 or so friends. It was all pure luck. If there were any other fires happening at the time in Portugal then I’m sure I wouldn’t have received that kind of attention from the fire department – my friends though, most certainly yes, and with the wind in my favour we were lucky enough to stop it only a few metres from within reaching the boundary of my land. It was a heroic effort from everyone involved and I’m so thankful.

Land here in Portugal is cheap, but there is a reason for that. The country is poor. During my search for land in Portugal I bumped into a guy I’d known from my London days, and told me that Portugal is like a little Africa in Europe. Well, considering the curious stare I get from most people it does resemble the feeling of being a white man in black Africa, Perhaps he was referring more to the fact that it’s poor and quite wild in the way that things work. Wild as in the same sense as ‘wild west’.

A word of caution when buying land here in Portugal. There are some people out there that will try and sell you land with the illusion that what you are buying is cheap, or at best, a fair price, but unfortunately if you’re a foreigner then the likelihood of that being true is, well … ‘relative’. There are many out there selling land who will try and make you believe their intentions are pure. Just be careful. Seek advice from local friends if you have any, otherwise, if you need some advice from a trustworthy agent (of change) on whether a piece of land that you’re interested in is fairly priced, then get in touch, and I’ll either try and help you myself or put you in touch with a trusted person that can help you, however there will be a cost for this valuable service, and you should be happy to pay it, as it it’s about creating a social economy for people and projects worthy of support. If you are financially challenged then exchange possibilities may exist. As they say in Permaculture … It all depends. I know that if you understand and trust what the vision of Earth Neighbours is about and you are willing to support it with your heart then it will prove to be a very valuable and worthwhile service for you.

I’ve also been starting work on creating a network, of trusted local people, that can be available to help people with finding land for their off-grid, sustainability, permaculture regeneration project. The idea is to build a small economy from this. Something that can help to sustain the people who are ‘on the ground’ and with good intentions. The network will start local, and small, but it will grow to cover all areas. It all starts with one to one. Peer to peer. The basis of all direct and honest communication. If you’re interested in supporting then please get in touch. If you’re interested in knowing more then stay tuned. First priority right now is creating fire breaks in case any other fires break out close by …

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