Where the fires came

Cork Oak, well adapted to wild fires
The village of Povoa Dão on a pillow of Oaks

Longer live the Oaks

Yesterday on hiking day 5 we walked into the part of the Dão valley that burned in the fires of October 2017. These fires burned their way through the Centro region of Portugal and lasted 1.5 days, consuming 500.000 hectares, many lives were lost (human and animal) and houses and businesses destroyed. I am estimating that 35/40 % of the Dão valley burned all the way from Santa Comba Dão, where the Dão ends in the dam lake of Aguieira, up to the part of the valley we walked into yesterday between Alcafache (Municipality of Mangualde) and São João de Lourosa (Municipality of Viseu). In this 35 km stretch of Dão valley most burned trees are still standing as is the case in all the other areas affected by the fires. There are simply too many burned trees that have no value (flooded market) and the local populations do not have the means to 'clean' the landscape. It is a difficult site; thousands of black and bare trunks and limbs sticking out of the hillsides. Single trees, patches, thickets, whole forests.
One thing is hope-giving though: the survival of many oaks, the re-growing of most oaks that burned, the oaks forest patches that survived and the ribbon of trees along the Dão river. These trees and the cool and humid environment they create can withstand fire while the pines, acacias and eucalyptus cannot. Good to know there are efforts in the region to create national center for research and innovation in the area of native oak and hardwood.

Dão valley below Silgueiros (Viseu)
Walking under the remnants of Parasol Pine trees