The abandonment of the mountain, the pressure of tourism or the lack of preventive measures are causes that explain the virulence of the Sierra Bermeja forest fire, in Malaga, according to the analysis of the Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Granada (UGR) José Gómez Zotano , one of the country’s leading experts in this area.
As reported by the UGR in a note, Gómez Zotano points out that the Sierra Bermeja fires “are nothing new”, since a total of 29 have occurred since 1950, which represents an average of one large forest fire every 4, 27 years
Numerous factors explain the virulence of the Sierra Bermeja forest fire and a large part of them derive from the lack of prevention measures and the abandonment suffered by this area, as detailed by multiple studies carried out for years by Gómez Zotano, which summarizes what happened with the following sentence: “Abandonment of the sixth generation, fire of the sixth generation.”
In his analysis, the UGR professor points to important economic and social implications in the origin of these disasters. “The growing evolution of forest fires clearly reflects the existence of conflicts and tensions of various orders in Sierra Bermeja: social marginalization of the neighboring towns, economic precariousness of the uses, problems associated with the ownership-ownership of the mountains, depopulation of rural areas, overpressure due to tourism, abandonment of farms, agricultural burns, changes in land use, drug trafficking, urban speculation and requalification of undeveloped land, are facts that result in the frequent appearance of fires, most of them intentional ”, Has detailed the geographer.
Taking into account this complex socio-territorial conflict, the incendiary dynamics that began in the sixties of the 20th century respond to the tensions generated in the Costa del Sol tourist coastline and in the agricultural Genal Valley.
In his studies, Gómez Zotano states that, since the middle of the 20th century, the traditional uses of the mountain have been abandoned, turning this mountain into the backcountry of the urbanized Costa del Sol Occidental.
The beginning of tourism coincided with the decline of traditional forest use in general and of resin pine in particular (wood and resin), which generated important landscape and territorial changes. “Given the lack of prices and markets for forest products, these forests tended to be abandoned, which was translated into an environmental risk factor due to the generation of excessive densification of vegetation and an abundant accumulation of easily-combusted organic matter that, in addition, it served as a reserve for diseases and pests ”, the researcher stressed.
This abandonment of farms, therefore, “had a negative impact” on the frequency, extension and intensity of forest fires, producing an alarming increase in them from the second half of the 20th century.