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Lusa - Business News - Portugal: New decree on eucalyptus aims to reduce plantation areas by 10%

Lisbon, Nov. 24, 2021 (Lusa) - The environment minister, João Matos Fernandes, said on Wednesday that the new eucalyptus ordinance aims to regulate the relocation of plantations, reducing 10% of the area they currently have.
Matos Fernandes was heard today in parliament, in the Environment Commission, at the request of the Green Ecologist Party (PEV), about a diploma that the Government has placed in public consultation that establishes new limits per municipality for eucalyptus plantations and that environmental associations considered would lead to an increase in the areas allowed for this species, contrary to what is defined by law.
PEV MP Mariana Silva recalled that according to official records, in 2015, eucalyptus occupied 845,000 hectares of mainland territory, "that is, 33,000 hectares more" than is foreseen for 2030 in the National Strategy for Forests, and that there is a proven role for this species in areas heavily affected by fires.
In his response the environment minister denied that the new decree is an increase in the areas allowed for eucalyptus planting, but rather a matter of "relocating" eucalyptus plantations "always with an area 10% less", as provided by legislation approved in 2017, following the major forest fires of that year.
"An ordinance does not change a law and since 2017 it has been prohibited by law to increase the area of eucalyptus plantations," said Matos Fernandes, who added that since then "there has been a legal regime for afforestation and reforestation using other forest species" and that the "rules liberalising eucalyptus plantations" that had been "created" by former agriculture minister and former CDS-PP leader Assunção Cristas were also revoked.
The decree that motivated today's hearing aims, according to the minister, to "alter the regional forestry planning programmes" to meet the objective set for 2030 of reducing the area occupied by eucalyptus trees from 845,000 to 812,000 hectares.
To this end, "a mechanism for relocating almost 35,000 hectares of eucalyptus was planned, allowing their transfer from ecologically sensitive areas to other more suitable areas" and "all eucalyptus compensation projects carry with them a reduction in area", namely 10% in the first year, 20% in the second and "so on until the fifth year of application", he said.
Matos Fernandes said that "a number of municipalities have been identified that can receive these relocations" and others that are excluded from this possibility, such as those where at least 25% of the municipality's total area is already occupied by eucalyptus trees.
What the ordinance in question does is redefine the maximum limits of eucalyptus areas per municipality in accordance with the criteria for relocations, he added.
Among the concerns expressed by the opposition MPs today were, besides the possibility of increasing the areas destined for eucalyptus, the possibility of spontaneous eucalyptus stains, due to natural regeneration of burnt areas, and that not one of the municipalities identified in the new decree-law should see the maximum area limit for this species reduced.

Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-11-25 09:58:36


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