Fighting Forest Fires and Climate Change on La Gomera

How to convert a fertile land to a barren land

First published on January 30, 2017 by The Ecologist: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2988588/witness_the_la_gomera_forest_fires.html


Discussions around the effects of climate change tend to focus on the planet’s polar extremes, expanding deserts or low-lying areas. La Gomera – a subtropical forest perched more than a thousand metres above the ocean – is also at risk.

Señor Ángel Fernández is precisely the sort of person you want in charge of a project where failure is not an option. Meticulous, knowledgeable, patient and, above all, determined, this is not a man prone to exaggeration nor one likely to overlook an important detail.

I am sitting with Mr. Fernández in his modern, glass-walled and – mercifully, given the midday heat – air-conditioned office in San Sebastian, the main town on the island of La Gomera, a beautiful, volcanic outpost 18 miles west of Tenerife.  In 2012, the island was hit by a huge fire – ‘El Gran Fuego’ – which devastated around a fifth of Garajonay National Park…

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