• English
  • Deutsch
  • Español

Donkeys v fire

Fire prevention strips

The donkeys are at it again! We've seen before how these lovely creatures are employed to help tidy up the countryside, clear torrents - dried up river beds – and now simply by chomping their way through the undergrowth they're helping to prevent forest fires.

It's a win win situation for the donkeys and the authorities as teams of these equine firefighters are employed to munch their way through carefully chosen strips of land in the many forested areas of Mallorca. The bare strips form a vegetation free 'girdle' that, as fire as nothing to grip on to travel, stops the conflagration in its tracks! The strip also helps human firefighters and their equipment to travel to the heart of the fire to douse it.

The story is that Ibanat (the Balearic Nature Institute) and the Natura Parc Foundation collaborate in what they call 'Silvicultura' – the use of traditional and modern methods of management of the natural environment. Ibanat (photos) provides the skills of knowing when, where and how to treat the forests and Natura Parc provide the donkeys who have all been abandoned by, or rescued from, their former owners.

This year, a new agreement has been signed to continue this work and the donkeys are already hard at it in two areas of Mallorca. Teams of between 15 and 27 donkeys are munching away through two carefully controlled areas in Galatzo, Calvia and Llevant in Arta.

It's a system that works and is absolutely vital in the summer when the forests and virgin areas of the island are tinder dry and could go up in flames really easily. Ibanat give the example of a recent big fire near Pollensa when the fire raged through the unkempt undergrowth and spread rapidly. It is precisely this undergrowth that the donkeys are eradicating in Galatzo and Llevant.

Well done to all involved whether they have four legs or only two!