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Endangered donkeys to be used as ‘firefighters’ in northern Portugal  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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An innovative project to promote the survival of the endangered ‘burro mirandês’ donkey while also reducing the risk of forest fires has been launched in the north of Portugal.

The idea is simple – the donkeys will be left grazing on scrublands and other forest areas in Trás-os-Montes that have been flagged as fire risk hotspots.

As they chomp their way through potentially flammable undergrowth, risks will be lowered and the donkeys will prove their worth to farmers


Full article here - Burros Mirandeses article
 
Casie Becker
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I suspect they'll be moved to new grazing grounds "fire risk hot spots" before they wander far from the original spot. Unless I'm wrong and donkeys will roam away from ample feeding grounds.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Cool idea they came up with. Donkeys are awesome lawn mowers and shrub/ tree trimmers.
You are right Casie, they hang in good food spots and only move when they've eaten all the choice stuff down.
As long as they have what they most want to eat where they are located, they will stay in that area.
 
Brian L. Cooper
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Are donkeys at all picky eaters?
After the donkeys munch their way through the brush, what's left over, and how well does that burn? I suppose those remainders will be sparser and easier to deal with for a while after the burros have moved on.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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There are lots of plants donkeys will not touch and others they will eat last. So, yes they are picky eaters I suppose.
They will eat small branches, remove and eat bark from larger branches.
If there is new growth, tender leaves of species they seem to prefer, those will go long before the less palatable ones, if those are eaten at all.
They love new growth grasses and will not eat things like Side oats or clovers.

Redhawk
 
Brian L. Cooper
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Maybe rotate sheep and/or goats through the area before or after the donkeys.
Eventually somebody will need to deal with the conditions that predispose the region to dryness, scrub brush, and wildfire.

Swales and ponds, anybody?
Might as well make it nice for the critters.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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It seems the real issue is that Portugal is focused more on fire management strategies than prevention strategies, according to lisboa.academia.edu .

The area this strategy is being tried at has several issues, neglected fire prone plant growth and types of plants highly prone to fire (eucalypts etc.)
The land use is changing according to lisboa notes and that means no one wants to be highly active in fire prevention measures at this time.

I suspect that as in most countries, government is expected to do all the work but officials are dragging their feet when it comes to passing worthwhile legislation.
On the bright side of this story, the donkeys will be better off species survival wise and there is a 3% fire rate in this area of Portugal apparently.

Redhawk
 
Brian L. Cooper
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Well, sure, fire prevention measures might improve the place too much.
Ponds and a better class of vegetation would make it too much like a park. Might have to chase people away from a former no-mans-land.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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yep, that's the way I read it too.

It always feels weird when I read about this sort of thing.
It's like they see the problem but don't want to do anything that would really take care of the problem.

I have looked at some photos of this area and it would make a super botanical gardens space if there was enough rain fall.
That area is a lot like pre desert, aired high country.

The "Official" status of this area seems to be in limbo for the most part for some reason.
Rather reinforces my thoughts about the human race in general, and that isn't a good thing.
 
Brian L. Cooper
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Shaking my head... A moment's research reveals that this little nowhere corner of Portugal is where Port wine grapes are grown. (Three of the last half dozen bottles of wine I've bought came from here. I like a good tawny port.)

The region is hilly, and has been isolated for centuries by poor roads. Other crops grown here are corn, rye, potatoes, wheat, olives and chestnuts.

I think Lisbon is punishing these people for hangovers of centuries past. Seriously? 'poor roads' into a region that's been producing international trade since the 1700s. We're talking a half-billion dollar market in 2013.

There's all kinds of jackasses in Portugal, and too many of them have round pink ears instead of long fuzzy ones.
 
Burra Maluca
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Brian Cooper wrote:

There's all kinds of jackasses in Portugal, and too many of them have round pink ears instead of long fuzzy ones.


The locals have a saying much like that - 'there are many burros in Portugal, it's just that most of them only have two legs.'
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Indeed, the very reasons the area is "fire prone" (though 3% is hardly fire prone to my mind) is precisely why it grows good grapes.
It seems the farmers tried to diversify away from the vineyards perhaps and that is what is causing the hubbub a reduction in production of fine fortified wines?

I do like the idea of using donkeys to reduce the flammable materials though.
 
Brian L. Cooper
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Jeez, now I want to run away to Portugal, of all places. (What will one more jackass hurt...)

Just give me 10-15 hectares of burned-out Portugal, some semi-feral donkeys, and I'll come up for air in 10 years.
 
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