The Baix Camp region has 15 Forest Defense Groups (ADF) and, of these, only “five are active”, indicates the coordinator of the Baix Camp ADF and also a member of Les Borges del Camp, José León. Reactivating them is an objective pursued by the Baix Camp Regional Council with the president, Rosa M. Abelló, at the helm.
«These groups have existed since 1986. In central Catalonia they had a great boost, but over time they diminished and these volunteer structures fell asleep, this is what we want to change. These people are important actors who help prevent fires, and more so in a region with so much forest. Now that the summer months are approaching, it is even more valuable, but not only then, these are also activated when there is snowfall and rainy weather”, says Abelló.
He recalls that the county administration has held meetings between different ADFs and has been attended by professionals in the field of prevention, such as forestry agents, “to promote its reactivation, establish effective coordination and training.”
He indicates that from the Consell they have to act as a “bridge between the Generalitat and the Diputació de Tarragona in terms of aid”. “A lot of work is being done on prevention, an inventory is being made of the logistical resources that the ADF have and we are promoting that they get to know each other,” he says. León says that “some are already in the process of starting up again, in many cases it is just paperwork”, in others it is about attracting more volunteers and training them.
Both Abelló and León stress that it is essential to share needs and maintain good coordination between the ADF, especially once any forestry problem has been detected and to act quickly. «The main problem that we find in an ADF is that, as it belongs to a small municipality, there is a lack of resources, for example, for vehicles. For this reason, we promote the sharing of resources between the ADF; If we act together, everything is easier. The Generalitat offers subsidies, but opting for them is usually complicated, “adds León.
The profile of who is in an ADF is usually people from the municipality, “about 30 years old and who do outdoor activities”; they have a green or yellow card that “indicates their preparation and training level” to work as such: “With the green card, they have a level of advice and training, they control columns of smoke, they carry out forest surveillance and weeding; with the yellow, they have done training with Bombers and intervene as support in the extinction of fires».
León states that the most common thing is to have a green card and that, over time, the fact of being a volunteer has ended up being more regulated, “with a board that decides whether or not you are qualified for it,” he deepens. “We are linked to insurance and there are many expired yellow cards, we have to activate them again to volunteer,” he remarks.
One of the members of the ADF of Arbolí, Magda Seriol, comments, for her part, that “we do this task in our free time, because we are concerned about the state of our lands.” «Before, it was carried out by peasants who watched over their interests, but as these older people became older, the figure was disappearing; We, the inhabitants of the municipality, had to activate ourselves to give life to these groups », she expresses. In Arbolí, number, there are a dozen people.
«The Arbolí ADF was quite stopped last year, although we were already clearing paths. Now it is being reactivated and we are waiting to renew our cards, mostly yellow, and we will renew the board; I appreciate the predisposition of the president of the group, Jordi Juncosa, for wanting to reactivate it », he details.
Seriol states that over time the ADF volunteers “gain visibility and that in the groups there are usually very prepared profiles, such as firefighters”, although there is still a lack of people in the forests: “There are not enough rural agents, there is a lack of human resources and the aid from the Generalitat to train people is not enough».
He contributes that ADF and the City Council have to be “in permanent communication” and that people who “see columns of smoke or any incident, get in touch and collaborate with the volunteers, since it is everyone’s business to take care of the territory,” he assures.