The Balearic government yesterday approved the Third General Plan for Defence Against Forest Fires, which will cover the next ten years and has a budget of 66.35 million euros. It also approved plans to draw up a forestry plan which will establish conservation measures for the woods over the next 15 years. The agreements were made at its regular Friday meeting, which was held in the Menut estate in Escorca, on the occasion of World Forestry and Water Days. Spokesman Antoni Garcías stressed the government's commitment to the “environment, territory, protection of the landscape and rational use of natural resources.” After a minute's silence in memory of the latest ETA victim, socialist councillor Juan Priede, Garcias headed a press conference to explain the forest fire fighting plan. The basic aim of the plan is to “reduce the area destroyed by fire and the number of big fires,” Garcias said. According to the environment ministry, there were 3'522 fires destroying 41'449 hectares of land in the Balearics between 1970 and 2001. The government plan will set up a network of fire spotters in the Balearic woods, which cover 44 per cent of the area. There will be 19 control points in Majorca, two in Minorca and six in Ibiza. There will also be six mobile watchers and a plane. For extinction, the environment ministry will have five land brigades in Majorca, one in Minorca and two in Ibiza, as well as three helicopters and four planes, all specialised in fighting fires. Garcias said that the forestry plan will define “the strategy for the conservation of the woodland” and will establish “a model of sustainable development for all the Balearic woodland.” Under the new government agreement, the environment ministry has been empowered to consult any organisation it wishes to help draw up the plan.

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