Cespa, Ferrovial's services subsidiary, has obtained three major contracts in recent months to restore areas affected by forest fires. The contracts, worth a total of 13 million euro, were awarded by Spain's Environment Ministry and cover work in Toledo (mainland Spain) and on the islands of Hierro and Tenerife (Canary Islands).
After a forest fire has been extinguished, steps must be taken to prevent future fires and combat soil erosion. That is what Cespa
, Ferrovial's services subsidiary, is doing in Tenerife. In the summer of 2007, the island suffered one of the worst forest fires of the last ten years. Close to 18,000 hectares of forest were burned in the Corona Forestal Nature Park
, an area of great ecological value. In Spain, a forest fire affecting over 500 hectares is classified as large. According to witnesses, the Tenerife fire was frightening.
In August, the Environment Ministry awarded Cespa the contract for recovery work in Corona Forestal. Cespa has extensive experience in replanting and restoring forests. The work, which commenced in April 2008, will take two years. When activity peaks, the project is expected to employ around 600 people, mainly field crews.
Although the fire was destructive, the Nature Park withstood it well because the predominant species of tree in that area of Tenerife, the Canary Island pine, is one of the most fire-resistant species in the world. In fact, just months after the blaze, the Canary Island pines had regained their characteristic green colour by sprouting needles.
Since most of the pine trees survived the fire, Cespa's work in Tenerife will focus more on preventing future fires than on replanting. Technicians will have to examine each tree and identify those which are incapable of regenerating and, therefore, need to be felled to reduce the area's high tree density.
Also, it was observed that one of the species of Laurissilva, Myrica faya shrubs
, helped to slow the fire, while Cornish heath
contributed to propagating it. For that reason, Myrica will be encouraged while heath will be cut back, and scrub will be cleared.
In addition to tree felling, Cespa and Ferrovial-Agromán will improve approximately 450 kilometres of roads to ensure that fire-fighting crews can quickly reach the site of any future fire. According to experts, the first 30 minutes after a fire breaks out are decisive.
If it is not controlled quickly, the chances of a simple fire turning into a runaway blaze increase exponentially. Other work will be performed in Tenerife to reduce topsoil erosion and channel run-off. A total of 52 swales will be built.
The budget for the work in Tenerife is 9 million euro. Of that amount, 5.12 million euro is for forest work and 3.82 million euro for hydrological work.