By Humphrey Carter THE Balearic forestry protection and fire services will this summer be using the very latest computer technology to protect the island from a major natural disaster. The Balearic Minister for the Environment, Jaume Font, yesterday visited Son Bonet airfield to meet some of the members of the forest fire fighting unit and also inspect the new equipment. This year the battle to protect the Balearics from forest fire will be reinforced by a high technology fire simulator. It uses the latest meteorological and geographical technology as well as information about the area of forest or woodland on fire and its level of combustion. Font explained that the simulator will then be able to provide fire fighters with vital information about the fire in question, its characteristics, the direction is it likely to move in and therefore enable fire fighting teams on the ground and in the air to tackle the blaze more effectively and move into strategic positions to protect possible areas in danger. The simulator, which is going to be based at the Forest Fire Communications and Control centre, will also be able to provide detailed maps of where the fire could spread and how far the flames could spread. Accompanied by the director general of Biodiversity, Joana Xamena, and the director of the IBANET forestry commission, Miguel Sintes, Font inspected the fire trucks and air support which are now on red alert after the annual forest fire campaign was put into operation on Monday. This summer a maximum of 350 people split into a total of seven brigades are going to be involved in the forest fire operation. What is more, a special reserve team is going to be on stand-by to cover for a shortfall in personnel. From June 1, a Port of Pollensa-based CLT-415 Canadair sea plane will be joining the operation, two weeks earlier than usual. The Ministry for the Environment will be spending nearly seven million euros, 300'000 euros more than during the 2005 campaign, on protecting the Balearics from fires and natural disasters this year.