HEADING FOR THE HILLS
HALT FARM FIRES
we on our little olive farm have been part of this molestation of our precious valley, our villages, wellbeing and planet THE TIME IS OBVIOUSLY NOW FOR A NATIONWIDE ENDEAVOUR TO CHANGE MINDS, CHANGE PRACTICES, CHANGE OUR WELLBEING
It is stunning to learn that the air that I and my family breathe in the mountains is at certain times of the year worse than Barcelona. Fact. Maybe you saw the flurry of media coverage regarding new research.
Hands up, for we on our little olive farm have been part of this molestation of our precious valley, our villages, wellbeing and planet. Well, what harm can small bonfires of prunings do? When I read the data, scented the smoke in the air, looked out across the Priorat and Baix Ebre at the host of grey plumes across the farms I shuddered. In the cold of December, January and February, the smoke would barely rise and then spread a film of poison.
This is not going to endear me to some of our neighbours, but we have to change our rural ways now. We can, if the local, regional and national governments here in Catalonia support us, bring a swift, huge benefit locally and globally IF we stop burning biomass, aka vine, olive, almond and other cuttings.
The time is obviously now for a nationwide endeavour to change minds, change practices, change our wellbeing for the better, for a concerted programme to educate and support. Make it happen Generalitat. It is vital there is the climate science in place, funded and fundamental to our collective wellbeing and hallelujah for that. In so many ways Catalonia is working to reconcile stark realities with unsustainable practices. But I and my family are impatient. Let’s get on with this specific rural change for the better, not slowly, not in the near future but now. Give mayors and their councils the funds to equip and to mulch all waste. Incentivise. When this alternative is in place and clear guidance on how to use mulch is understood then stop the fires.
Mulch? We need to talk about mulch; how and where to use it and issues to be mindful of. It can be a wonder food for the land, especially in time of drought. Feed the branches into a towable machine and use the chopped biomass to retain moisture where needed, to protect plants, to nurture bugs and, hence, birds and other creatures.
Why should we? Farmers are wise and sustain. Yes, in so many ways. But we have to heed the science. And think about it – there would be no need to rush to burn in winter when the risk of wildfires is lower and smoke will be trapped in valleys. Wildfire risks continue to rise year round due to drought. Mulching can be done through the year.
Missed the coverage? The Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research revealed that harmful aerosols from burning biomass rurally cause more damage to human cells than those generated by Barcelona traffic. As we struggle to figure how we as individuals can play a part in combating climate change, this is one significant rural way, for a host of reasons.