The Carvalho family owns forested lands in the centre of Portugal, where the father and son have been implementing sustainable forest management practices by replacing pine and eucalyptus trees with local species such as oaks and chestnuts.

In central Portugal, as the family has observed, there has been a trend towards warmer and drier conditions, including more frequent heatwaves and droughts. This trend is officially attributed to climate change. Higher than average mortality rates have been reported in the news and by the government in Portugal due to heatwaves, while the combination of hotter and drier conditions has significantly increased the fire risk and the water demand in the agriculture sector.

In October 2017, 95% of the territory of the municipality, including all of the family’s forested land, burned in an extraordinary forest fire. The plaintiff’s family home was also surrounded by the flames, and his agricultural machinery and garage were damaged by the fire. The family was lucky to survive the forest fire, but they have never forgotten it. Even if the Carvalho family now invests in rehabilitation of this forest land, it is nevertheless impossible to estimate how many years it will take to once again have a mature forest, given the risk scenarios of climate change in Portugal.

Now, the family is asking the EU decision makers to increase their climate ambition, in order to protect them and their forested lands from future forest fires.

The father of the family, Armando Carvalho, clarifies: “On 15 October 2017, the occurrence of a unique and abnormal meteorological event coincided with the surge of a megafire spreading at the highest rate, affecting my family’s properties and assets. Taking into account my forestry knowledge and experience of fire-fighting during those days, aligned with my conscience and citizenship values, I had to take an active role in this legal case, as I’m aware that it is up to the EU to lead the way and act ambitiously to reverse what’s happening in terms of the impacts of climate change in its territory.

Please contact ZERO to reach out to the family.