Programme LIFE+2013 Garajonay Vive: Ecological restoration works on the Garajonay National Park and surrounding area following the devastating forest fire in 2012
A deliberate fire was started on the island of La Gomera on 4th August 2012, which turned out to be the worst forest fire for decades in the Canary Islands from an ecological point of view. The fire caused the greatest ever damage in terms of surface area to laurel forest in the Canaries, including highly valuable centuries old areas of woodland, unlike any other had previously done. The total surface area burned down was 3,613.78 hectares, affecting 7 Special Preservation Zones (ZEC in Spanish), equivalent to 32.55% of its total area. At the Garajonay National Park itself, 741.7 hectares were affected, equal to 18.6% of its surface area.
The fire has had grave environmental repurcussions as a result of the destruction of huge swayths of vegetation, mainly ancient laurel forests situated in the Garajonay National Park, a Human Heritage Site. It also directly affected a number of areas of endangered species, caused a loss of good quality land, and has led to a grave deterioration in the functions of water collection and regulating of the hydrological cycle of the woods, which the island depends on for its supply.
The LIFE 13 NAT/ES/000240 project, “Ecological restoration of the Garajonay National Park and surrounding area following the great forest fire in 2012”, under the acronym of “Garajonay vive”, was launched by the management of the Garajonay National Park and backed by the General Management for the Protection of Nature of the Government of the Canary Islands, with the aim of planning and executing actions to repair environmental damage caused at the Garajonay National Park and surrounding area, as well as preventing future fires. This candidacy was the one chosen by the European Union through its project selection process LIFE+ 2013, following a close fought contest featuring numerous state projects. In the nature section just 14 projects were chosen.
The focus of the project is wide ranging, as it looks to take on risk of fire to prevent future ecological catastophies, assess the environmental damage caused by the fire, practise and apply restoration techniques adapted specifically to the conditions at the Garajonay National Park and surrounding area, as well as Canary laurel forests in general. Likewise, it includes several measures aimed at informing the general public about the problems of fires, its consequences and to bring to public knowledge the results of the project. These widespread actions are reflected in the participation by many different agents with powers and responsibilities pertaining to all different areas related to the problems of fires.
• Empresa de Transformaciones Agrarias, S.A. (TRAGSA): Coordinator and beneficiary
• University of La Laguna: Beneficiary partner
• The Garajonay National Park
• Cabildo de La Gomera Island Government
• General Management for Nature Protection of the Government of the Canary Islands
• Town Hall of Vallehermoso
• Town Hall of Valle Gran Rey
All the parties involved have committed to financing the project on various levels at the time of their presenting their candidacy, and later on once the project was approved.
The total budget for the project amounted to 1,511,494.00 €, distributed over the years of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, while also benefitting from 50% financing from the European Union.