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Old Nov 4th 2017, 4:55 am   #1
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Default How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Hi

Sorry this may not be the right place to ask, but I thought I'd try.

After a years work we are at stage of buying a piece of land in Serra de estrella to start a mindful recovery centre. We have already spent a lot of money on architects and lawyers.

The recent fires really damaged the land, scorching everything, and bringing down the roof on most of the buildings/ruins, which were to be renovated anyway.

Our main concern is the trees and forests. We had olive trees, fruit trees, pine forests and some larger trees dotted around. We are based in Thailand currently so cant just go over to look. The architect has been and sent pictures and it doesnt look good.

We chose the land for its beauty, and without the trees we would seriously consider trying to find something new, but this land is very unique.

When these fires sweep through, do the larger trees usually survive? If the pine forest now looks like black matchsticks, can they recover? Can anyone comment on how long it takes for land to recover after these fires?

Thanks for your help
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Old Nov 4th 2017, 7:32 am   #2
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Lots of variables such as type of soil, terrain, coming rainfall & degree of heat in exact locations.

We're in Nodeirinho near Pedrogao Grande which was hit hard on June 17th & going from experiences here, you can probably expect the pines to be dead & the eucalyptus to be regenerating like crazy.

Some/many of the older, deep rooted fruit, olive & broad leaved indigenous trees will probably have survived but will need chainsaw work on damaged limbs & most younger trees will be dead. I have noticed some younger fruit trees are regenerating from the root but when grafted from other root stock that regeneration is from below the graft so I guess will only regenerate whatever fruit the original root was........ but I don't know anything about gardening I'm afraid.

I'm told by the locals that the big cork trees have mostly survived but the cork on them is mostly useless & will have to be stripped off & disposed of so new cork will develop.

Most of our vines have regenerated from the root but I'd guess won't give much fruit for a few years.

The recent (and very welcome) rains in my area at least is already causing an alarming amount of erosion in some areas as well.

But at least the fires are out!

For now.........
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Old Nov 4th 2017, 8:59 am   #3
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

There are parts of thewestern algarve that even 10 years later still shows the scars of the fires that devastated large areas.
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Old Nov 4th 2017, 9:05 am   #4
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Just out of interest what is a "mindful recovery centre"
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Old Nov 4th 2017, 9:22 am   #5
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

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Originally Posted by chislenko View Post
Just out of interest what is a "mindful recovery centre"
I had to Google that as well! lol!
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Old Nov 4th 2017, 2:31 pm   #6
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Big old forests will take big old time to regenerate; but the land will br green again very fast.
Pines and eucalyptus will be of reasonable size again in 10- 20 years.
But if you choose another place in southern Europe that's forested, you'll always be in danger of getting burned out; I think you actually have great timing, you can now build with confidence.
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 4:13 am   #7
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Thankyou for your replies. If you want to see what we do here in Thailand check the link :

New Life Foundation | Mindful Recovery In Thailand For Personal Development, Addiction & Stress

The problem for us is that we will open the doors in 2 years and need to get it full to make the business work, which can be a struggle anyway. The land is very remote, and the main reason we chose it was for its beauty, which was mostly due to land, the forests, the beautiful olive and fruit trees etc. The view is very nice too

The architect we are using who has spent the most time there said he thinks we should consider finding something new, and he has already designed all the renovations and builds, so it must be fairly extreme for him to say that.

Our main investor doesnt seem to care at all, and doesnt even want to see the pictures, he just thinks it will be fine. But Im not sure if he knows anything about how long it could take to recover.

From what I've read if a fire burns hot and for a long time it can completely destroy everything, and ruin the soil. As you say some trees can take 10 to 20 years to grow again. Im not sure if some of the bigger older trees, maybe beeches or oaks and chestnuts would have survived.

We are in danger of losing our investors if we dont act quickly, but we are conflicted about what to do, and we havent quite signed for the land yet. We are also wondering if it is a blessing in disguise, as the road to the land is terrible and long, and planning and regs are so tight in the park. The sellin point was the beautiful land, which really is magical! Or was.

What do you mean it may be perfect timing? In that now the fire has just been it is safer in the future? Wherever we go we are going to put drastic fire safety measures in place, anything we possibly can. The current owners did nothing to protect it.

Any more advice very welcome, thanks
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 8:01 am   #8
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

The only way you could protect yourself against a forest fire is to not be surrounded by forest; exactly as you now are. I really think you need to go have a look for yourself, and also look at alternative sites, before making such a vital decision.

The question of whether or not some of your big trees are still alive is not trivial! I don't know how you could tell aside from waiting for a few months for new shoots. It has been raining so if they are alive they'll be getting it together soon.

Soil after a fire is very fertile, the ash is rich in nutrients. It will look like the moon for a year, but then everything starts growing like crazy.

If you have water, your options are better. Also, you can buy 5 year old trees to plant around your place; they will be expensive but will considerably shorten the time before you have decent cover.
I suggest you get a forestry person in to check out the situation and advise you on your options.

The long bad road is another matter entirely.

And don't forget that you can now renegotiate the buying price.
Sorry news for the sellers, but the reality is that the land value has been drastically decreased by the fire.
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 9:49 am   #9
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Thanks liveaboard.

Yes I think your'e right, we need to get a forestry person in to look.

Is there really no way to protect yourself from fires, with breaks/gaps in the forest, and any other measures?

This fire has worried us in more ways than one. There is only one road up to the land, and it will be a community of 60 people we are responsible for. If we had been up there when this recent fire happened I cant see how everyone would have survived. Its scary, and so many people have died this year in Portugal because of fires.

I'm just wondering whether being stuck up a mountain 900m above sea level with 60 people if there is a fire could turn very bad. I just assumed we could somehow prevent it, or have safety measures, but we hadnt got into that planning yet.

And yes, we need to negotiate price if we are to go ahead with this land.
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 12:03 pm   #10
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by robodelfy View Post
Thanks liveaboard.

Yes I think your'e right, we need to get a forestry person in to look.

Is there really no way to protect yourself from fires, with breaks/gaps in the forest, and any other measures?

This fire has worried us in more ways than one. There is only one road up to the land, and it will be a community of 60 people we are responsible for. If we had been up there when this recent fire happened I cant see how everyone would have survived. Its scary, and so many people have died this year in Portugal because of fires.

I'm just wondering whether being stuck up a mountain 900m above sea level with 60 people if there is a fire could turn very bad. I just assumed we could somehow prevent it, or have safety measures, but we hadnt got into that planning yet.

And yes, we need to negotiate price if we are to go ahead with this land.
You bet your life it could turn VERY bad indeed........ We were hit by the June 17th firestorm & barely escaped & even with good tar roads we only just made it & 11 died in our village plus 50+ more within 5 km of it.

A bad dirt road would have made escape impossible.

That said, this might be of interest:

This summer, protect your household from wildfires! |
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 1:14 pm   #11
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Pine trees do not recover from severe damage - even in the absence of searing fire. I have had the top snap off several pine trees (not in Portugal), and even if some branches remain the tree does not survive. Unlike many deciduous trees, if you crop the top off a pine tree, or cut it to a short stump, the trunk or rootstock of a pine tree will not regenerate.

That said, new pines will seed and sprout quickly, and within ten years you will have a forest of saplings of 10-20ft (3-6m).
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 11:44 pm   #12
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

You need to have a large cleared area to be safe; a 50 meter perimeter has been suggested.
Anyway, it's all burned now so you're safe for a while.
However, you could also have a safe room; there would be some engineering required for the ventilation but it should be doable.
As said, trying to escape down a long dirt track is unlikely to end well.

I had an idea for your vegetation; bamboo.
It grows fast and looks nice. as your bigger trees come in, just dig it out.
Ther's a company near us that sells many different varieties, they have frost tolerant ones. They have large capacity and I've seen them completely loading an articulated lorry.

Bamboe parque Alentejo I think. Run by a Frenchy, very knowledgeable
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Old Nov 5th 2017, 11:52 pm   #13
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by liveaboard View Post
You need to have a large cleared area to be safe; a 50 meter perimeter has been suggested.
Anyway, it's all burned now so you're safe for a while.
However, you could also have a safe room; there would be some engineering required for the ventilation but it should be doable.
As said, trying to escape down a long dirt track is unlikely to end well.

I had an idea for your vegetation; bamboo.
It grows fast and looks nice. as your bigger trees come in, just dig it out.
Ther's a company near us that sells many different varieties, they have frost tolerant ones. They have large capacity and I've seen them completely loading an articulated lorry.

Bamboe parque Alentejo I think. Run by a Frenchy, very knowledgeable
Choose wisely as some varieties will grow into an impenetrable bamboo thicket, others sprout "trunks" several feet apart and look more like woodland. The height can he anything from 2-3m to about 25m.

There are also dwarf varieties of bamboo that only growth a meter or so tall, but those would hardly replace mature trees.
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Old Nov 6th 2017, 2:14 am   #14
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

Thanks for all the responses. Yes it has brought up some serious concerns about safety. 50m of clear space around is not possible there. The track is steep, long and at the moment only doable with a 4x4.

A safe room could be an option, just needs to be big enough for 60 people!

MFEsharne, I checked the link you gave, it was very interesting. I was unsure if our place would be one that would be off limits in critical times for fire.

I think we may have overlooked the fire aspect more than we should of, and now need to work out how dangerous it might be and how it might affect business.

You guys have been very informative
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Old Nov 6th 2017, 9:06 am   #15
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Default Re: How long does land take to recover from fire damage?

There are other precautions you can take such as a drencher unit on the roof but you need a really good water source such as a pool, lake or river but with that people you're going to need lots of accommodation which means more drencher units & more water..... to say nothing of increased cost!
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