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Eucalyptus gets the chop after deadly Portugal forest fires

Lisbon, Portugal | AFP | Portugal is to reduce the number of eucalyptus groves after the highly flammable plant was blamed for last month’s deadly forest fires.

Parliament voted for the measure Wednesday as part of ongoing forest law reforms that started in April, before the blaze in the central Pedrogao Grande region that killed 64 people and injured more than 250.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa last week urged measures to prevent a repeat catastrophe, while also highlighting the challenges of forest redevelopment.

“We can’t refuse to curb the growth of eucalyptus because we’re worried about its impact on the paper industry,” he said last week, referring to a sector that represents 4.9 percent of Portuguese exports.

Eucalyptus is Portugal’s most widespread forest plant, according to the country’s Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests.

But it is cited as a cause of forest fires that lay waste annually to around 100,000 hectares of vegetation.


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