Building Community and Fire Immunity

I feel that we are facing many great challenges on this Earth. Challenges which represent real threats, not just to our existence, but to our right to exist in abundance.

Sometimes I would like to believe otherwise, or believe that perhaps these threats will just pass, with no consequence. Perhaps I am fortunate, to have experienced the fire which has now shown me that when threats are left untreated we leave ourselves susceptible to being prejudiced and having that which is rightfully ours taken away from us … sometimes, in the blink of an eye. How do we immunise ourselves from these threats?

One way I see Earth Neighbour projects is them acting as immune cells. I feel like I have an opportunity now to give an example of how these cells can contribute towards building ‘fire immunity’ – probably one of the most vital issues at this point in the story of Portugal, which is ravaged by fires every year. As I mentioned in another post a few months back, last year in 2016 alone 115,000 hectares were destroyed by fire, and accounted for half of all forests destroyed by fire in EU. A large portion of these areas are just abandoned rural farm land.

Climate Change Post also indicates this with their article ‘Abandoned farmlands lead to more forest fires in mainland Portugal.

In relation to some facts from the the fire that went through my quinta on July 18 – After reviewing the burnt area, the Forestry / Civil Protection services of the Camara Municipal of Fornos de Algodres calculated that roughly a total of 285 hectares of land was damaged by the fire. 118 hectares of that were classified as pastagem (fields for animals) and 166 hectares was mato (overgrown and abandoned farm land / scrub land). So over half of the land that was fire damaged was effectively classified as abandoned or untended land. I should point out that’s only within the concelho of Fornos de Algodres and doesn’t include how much area was damaged in the Concelho of Mangualde where the fire started (in 3 places!!).

In these largely abandoned rural areas there is the opportunity for immune cells to emerge. These could be made up of various neighbouring farms, collaborating together in designing and implementing land strategies to protect against the threat of fire. They not only serve to protect their own land that would most likely have been abandoned, but also act as a fire break, by protecting against the fire from passing over their own threshold.

From rural cells such as these, there would also arise self governing community fire response teams. Something that does not cost the government any money, as it arises out of of voluntary community action and is led by design.

Actions based on love, for the earth, not fear or economic interest.

From the ashes, new community is born …

For me, the fire that has passed here, has created a crisis, and in that, an opportunity, to reach out and to make a sincere effort to PROTECT against future threats. For me, this is a new beginning. I’m putting this out also for anyone who feels drawn to support my project. I ask you to please take a look at the ‘Fire Relief’ campaign I’ve created on There I outline a plan of what I wish to put into action here on my farm, to protect against the future threat of fire.

Many of us in the local area have already gathered and discussed how to deal with the future threat of fire as a community. The general consensus is that some kind of community response group is necessary. A community fire response group has already been started on Facebook. So, it’s already happening – IMMUNITY in ACTION! Imagine what will happen when we figure out how get funding to support this cause!

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