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Conversations #03: Can mega fires be prevented in Galicia?

Rosa Mosquera and Juan Picos explore the use of fire, technology, and livestock as tools to prevent mega fires in Galicia

© Júlia Cussó for Sonda Internacional

Project summary

Project title

Mega Fires: Beyond Extinction


A project by Sonda Internacional


This project seeks to illustrate the circumstances surrounding the mega fires devastating Spain by generating a central guide to this phenomenon, presenting the new fire behavior and explaining its consequences on the land and the people. It will also compile the strategies for combating and living alongside them; unearth how ecosystems recover and utilize them; and share the solution projects mitigating their proliferation. As always, the project will tell these stories through photo, video and graphic resources as the main tool. Because seeing is essential to understanding.


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By Simón Casal 

27 September 2023

In Galicia there are almost one and a half million hectares of wooded forest land, an area that grows every year due to rural abandonment, mainly in the provinces of Lugo and Ourense. This growth of forest mass, combined with the effects of the climate crisis, cause megafires to become more and more frequent. Last year two of these fires, occurring in O Courel and Valdeorras, became the largest in the history of Galicia.

In the third installment of the Sonda Internacional Conversations series, Rosa Mosquera, professor at the University of Santiago de Compostela and expert in agroforestry systems, and Juan Picos, professor and researcher at the School of Forestry Engineering of Pontevedra, talk about both innovative and traditional methods used to reduce flammable landscapes in Galicia.

In this talk they address the use of fire through controlled burning, which has been practiced in Galicia for centuries and which forms part of the region’s fire culture. The two explore its historical importance, its usefulness and the need to adapt it to the current conditions of the Galician mountains. And they address the Nature Restoration Law, a law – approved in July by the European Parliament – which proposes to restore crucial ecosystems in the face of climate change and the loss of biodiversity, as more than 80% of habitats in Europe are in a poor state.


María Rosa Mosquera-Losada is a professor at the Department of Plant Production and Engineering Projects and coordinator of the Agrarian and Forestry Research Doctoral Program at the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) since 1994, with research on agroforestry systems, agroecology, fires or Ecosystem services. She has led projects such as the AFINET Thematic Networks (H2020) and AF4EU (HEuropa) to promote the exchange of knowledge in agroforestry. She leads the crops working group of the Global Research Alliance, official observer of the IPCC, and the Environmental Stimulation Group of the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (FAO). She is the author of more than 400 publications.

Juan Picos Martin is a PhD in Forestry Engineering, professor and researcher at the School of Forestry Engineering of Pontevedra (UVIGO) and teacher at MasterFuego. He developed his doctoral thesis on the viability of the implementation of forest fire insurance in Galicia. He has participated in more than forty research projects, ranging from measuring and mapping forest resources to forest management and preventive forestry. He has collaborated as an expert in international institutions such as EIPAGRI of the European Commission or UNECE-FAO of the United Nations.


Terrenos de Bosques Naturales SA. Boimorto, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain.

Sonda Internacional would like to thank Woodna Maderas Naturales for their hospitality in lending us this space to conduct the interview.


© Simón Casa for Sonda Internacional

How are we executing this project?

This interview is part of Mega Fires: Beyond Extinction, a long-term project only possible thanks to the collaboration of experts and, above all, the community of partners that support our visual journalism on the climate crisis.

We are a small non-profit media outlet. Our only means of financing is through donations and our budget is very small, so we plan to develop this project as support arrives to finance it.

If you are interested in mega fires and want to support the development of this project, you can make a one-time donation or become a monthly or annual member here.

And if you have any questions or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us.

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