Consul-elect Georges Zinsstag proposes solutions to reinvest agricultural land.
What if maintenance of fallow land could reduce the risk of fire in the ward!
This is the hypothesis that has been formulated for many years now by Georges Zinsstag, elected to the Gard Chamber of Agriculture in charge of the Committee for Territory and Rural Orientation. Farmer based in Bonnevaux for more than fifty years, the latter is based on the observation that a large part of the current forests found in the Gard are the result of private and spontaneous replanting, which is largely due to the abandonment of agriculture and lack of soil maintenance.
“The garden has many small forest owners, often heirs, who don’t always know they own land or sometimes don’t even know where it is, says Georges Zinsstag. Result: The forest area in the department has expanded in half a century from 25% to 50%.
An increase in forest that is also found nationwide with, in a century, a forest area that has increased from 10 Mha to 17 Mha, which today represents 31% of the territory.
The problem of this spontaneous replanting born most of the time from the cessation of agricultural management can “from the first year” become flammable. “Today we talk about forest fires, but also vegetation fires, which are much more widespread. If climate change increases the intensity of fires, the first cause of fires remains above all the lack of management of space. natural.”
Agricultural underutilization is due in part to a reduction in the number of farmers, less than 20% in ten years, a deficit in transmissions and the maintenance of speculative wastelands associated with peripheral urban planning and the hope of some owners to one day see the PLU change to their advantage . “First of all, we must favor and support the facilities. This is, among other things, about a relaxation of the overly drastic town planning rules!”
Prevention is also considered as one of the solutions to curb the phenomenon but “It is anyway less visible than the struggle and, above all, it is an area of great complexity that does not take into account pastoralism, agriculture and forestry”, notes the Gard farmer.
And if we add to this a prevention policy that suffers from divided governance between state, region, department and local authorities, “The situation is getting difficult”.
According to Georges Zinsstag, “it is time that there is a real pilot in charge of building a coordinated governance in relation to the defense of the forests against fires (DFCI) in the Gard.”
It should be remembered that in the department there are 17 public institutions for intermunicipal cooperation with a DFCI call, covering three quarters of the territory with, in terms of actions carried out, a great difference.
In addition to prevention, agricultural activities, although sometimes recognized as risky, can also have an impact on reducing fires, especially through the relocation of agricultural and pastoral areas in strategic sectors. “Portugal is currently implementing a pilot project introducing almost 19,000 goats and 40 shepherds in areas at high risk of fire”, notes the former shepherd.
Before adding: “The Chamber of Agriculture in Gard, for its part, is ready to help the elected representatives of municipalities and intermediate municipalities who want to address this issue head-on, knowing that the legislation is as complicated as the search for actors in pastoralism.”
For now, the Chamber is working to be a stakeholder in the ongoing revision of the Departmental Plan for the Protection of Forests from Fire (PDFCI). In reality, it must guide the actions of the various actors over the next ten years.