The replanting of the Valonia oak, a fire-resistant tree to combat desertification

MIL-OSI Europe: Written question – Planting oak trees to combat fires and desertification – E-003108/2019

Source: European Parliament

 MIL-OSI Publisher –
 October 18, 2019

From 1 January 2019 to 18 September 2019, forest fires in Greece destroyed at least 9 610 hectares of land, including 1 440 hectares of coniferous forest.

Fires have devastating effects on wildlife and domestic animals, as well as on human life. By way of example, during the fire in the district of Mati-New Voutzas in the Municipality of Marathon, Attica, on 23 July 2018, 101 people lost their lives and dozens of others suffered the after-effects.

According to experts’ estimates, the Valonia oak can be used effectively to prevent the spread of fires, drought, desertification and greenhouse effects. It can also reduce the number of fires, limit soil erosion and enhance the quality of ground water. It is extremely resistant to wind and fire, requires little water, is highly conducive to forest biodiversity and is cheap in terms of reforestation.

Although there are still some woods in Greece (the largest in the Balkans is situated in Aetolia-Acarnania), there are far fewer than before.

In view of this:

1. What action will the Commission take to launch the necessary studies and ensure the protection and cultivation of the Valonia oak in areas where there once were extensive forests?

2. What does the Commission intend to do to encourage the replanting of this fire-resistant tree?

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.