Here is a story that we just had to share. One of the reasons we love to holiday in Spain is the weather. But as you may be aware, in the hot and dry conditions of Southern Spain, there is a high risk of forest fires.
The attempts to combat forest fires is not just confined to human effort. The fire fighting unit Infoca has in its ranks this year 18,844 head of livestock, namely ‘firemen sheep’, which have the task of combing the mountains for pasture and scrub clean firewalls across the province.
The use of livestock as a tool for fire prevention in the mountains is an initiative that the Junta de Andalucia regional government imported from France in the late 90s and is now widespread throughout the region with increasing numbers of animals each season.
Specifically, in the province of Almeria, the scheme involves a dozen shepherds with their livestock (2,630 goats and 16,214 sheep) who work slowly but steadily, mainly in mountainous areas.
According to sources in Infoca, this controlled grazing has several advantages over mechanical control of the firewall. In monetary terms, a big saving is made because it prevents the need for machinery.
The work of the animals reduces up to 75% of the cost of regular treatments to prevent the grass growing.
The initiative also promotes the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity, while providing livestock grazing, and allows the shepherds to earn an income linked to their traditional business.
However the firefighting sheep not only work in the summer, the Junta has them contracted for the entire year. It is also vitally important they work during the winter months, as the mountains needs continual maintenance.
It is about removing the vegetation in the mountains to make it easier for effective, natural breaks, in case of fire.
We say, why not?