Goat brigades help bat­tle Por­tu­gal’s deadly wild­fires

Global Times - - Mosaic -

Fer­nando Moura and his herd may not look like he­roes but the Por­tuguese farmer and his 370 goats are the lat­est re­cruits in the coun­try’s bat­tle against sum­mer for­est fires.

Hop­ing to con­tain wild­fires that threaten its moun­tains each year, Por­tu­gal’s gov­ern­ment has hired goats to munch through un­der­growth and create nat­u­ral, cost-ef­fec­tive fire bar­ri­ers.

Soar­ing tem­per­a­tures of­ten spark blazes across Por­tu­gal’s moun­tain ranges, forc­ing au­thor­i­ties to dis­patch hun­dreds of fire­fight­ers, soldiers and wa­ter-dump­ing air­craft.

More than 100 peo­ple were killed in the coun­try’s wild­fires last year, prompt­ing crit­i­cism from fire­fight­ers over a lack of gov­ern­ment co­or­di­na­tion.

Moura’s four-legged brigade are part of a pilot project, started ear­lier this year, to clear com­bustible scrub­land from some of Por­tu­gal’s ma­jor moun­tain ranges.

Au­thor­i­ties hope the fire­fight­ing goats will help stop blazes spread­ing from one for­est to an­other and bet­ter con­tain any fires.

For the next five years, Moura and his goats have one mis­sion – to roam across the slopes of the cen­tral Serra da Estrela range and clear around 50 hectares of scrub­land to create the nat­u­ral fire­walls.

Around 40 goat herders are tak­ing part in the ini­tia­tive, which of­fi­cials say a full eval­u­a­tion will come at the end of its five-year run.

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