ARE the old ways the best? Barcelona’s city council is hoping to find out by bringing in a flock of sheep and goats to keep undergrowth down in a bid to prevent forest fires in a natural park.
A total of 290 of the animals have been brought in – along with two shepherds and four dogs – in a pilot scheme in the Barcelona section of the Collserola Natural Park.
It has an area of 84.65 square kilometres and is on the outskirts of Barcelona.
City bosses hope that the ruminants will do what they do best and much their way through overgrown grass and herbs to keep fire breaks in the massive park clear and effective.
The flock will be active in the mountainous part of the district of Horta-Guinardó, above the neighborhoods of Font del Gos and Montbau.
The two shepherds will control 130 sheep and 80 lambs as well as 80 goats, which already have a pen with watering troughs, water tank, and storage shed set up on a disused football field in Font del Gos.
If the trial is successful – it will end in June – then the scheme could be extended to other parts of the Barcelona city limits.
This is not the only flock in the park – there are four others – but it is the first to be brought into hard-to-access terrain with the specific intent of preventing forest fires.
Last year firefighters in Catalunya battled a wildfire that destroyed 400 hectares of forest and forced 350 people to be evacuated from their homes.
The blaze is believed to have been sparked by someone carelessly tossing a cigarette stub into scrubland on the edge of the Cap de Creus natural park in Spain’s Costa Brava region.
“One negligent cigarette butt is 50 years of reforestation,” warned Jordi Puignero, vice president of the Catalan regional government.
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