Staff Reporter
The Balearic Environment Ministry claims that there are still more than a million and a half trees which were damaged in the devastating storms of November 2001 to be removed on Majorca. This represents more than 6.5 percent of the total number of pine trees on the island, and nearly six percent of the total woodland, and, according to minister Jaume Font, “poses a very serious problem.” Font presented a programme yesterday outlining the selective removal of between 80'000 and 100'000 trees each year. The wood will be stored on a plot of land which the Environment ministry is planning to rent on a spot well away from wooded or inhabited areas. The programme includes the signing of a forestry management agreement with the Environment Ministry; specialised training of more than 5 brigades of Ibanat (the environmental unit of the Guardia Civil); the development of island-wide district fire-prevention plans; and the establishment of specific regional legislation to secure landowner co-operation. Font explained that 5'196 estates on the island were damaged during the extreme weather conditions. The programme strategy will divide up the affected areas, and classify them according to the risk that each presents. He commented that this problem “can't be dealt with in the space of five years or even in eight,” because too much water has passed under the bridge between the date of the violent storms and the recent research and clearance proramme.

Font specified that his department will give priority to the removal of trees that have been completely felled in the areas that present a high risk of fire, or which are threatened by the action of the Tomicus plague, also known as “pine beetle”. The minister said there will be trees that won't be removed due to the inaccessibility of their location. He also commented that due to the time that has elapsed since the storms, these damaged trees won't fetch a good price if sold as firewood. He added that his department also will have to take into account that there are areas where vegetation has grown over the damaged trees.
In such cases, the intervention of the Ibanat brigades will not be worthwhile.
The Ministry of the Environment aims to fine-tune regional legislation relating to forestry management by 2005 said Font, who reported that his department has begun the necessary paperwork in this regard and aims to empty the Son Ferriol temporary “felled tree” depot before the coming summer.

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