Plans for a 8'960 million peseta forest fire protection and prevention campaign were unveiled by the Balearic Minister for the Environment yesterday and the scheme should reduce the risks of bush fires until the end of the next decade. The Minister, Margalida Rossello, accompanied by the director general for Biodiversity, José Manuel Gómez, said yesterday that the forest fire prevention plan consists of the region being classified as high or low risk forest fire zones. Rossello said by assessing the risk of each region, the forestry protection departments will be able to adopt more effective preventative measures over the next ten years. Assessment work will get underway at the start of next year with Calvia and Andratx being examined first with studies of Minorca, Ibiza and the heart of Majorca being completed by the Spring leaving the rest of next year to cover remaining areas of Majorca. The vulnerability of certain areas will also be determined by the threats posed by local towns and urban developments. Over recent years there have been an increasing number of forest fires caused by human error, some intentionally and others by farmers. The Balearic Environment Minister also announced that local councils and other institutions are fully committed and involved in the project and in turn will be providing an extra 2'000 million pesetas over the next nine years to the forest fire fighting fund. Gomez said that over the past 20 years, 98 percent of forest fires in the Balearics have each damaged an area of over 100 hectares and he said that the cost of those fires to the environment and the ecology is immense. The new campaign should reduce the number of forest fires by half.

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