Every cloud has a silver lining and the awful weather in the Balearics this summer, while having ruined scores of peoples' holidays, has helped to keep forest fires to as minimum. The number of forest fires in the region this year has been the lowest for the past 30 years and Balearic Environment Minister, Margalida Rosselló, said yesterday that the high level of rain and extra manpower in the forestry department, has helped to reduce forest fires and increase the level of environmental control and protection. Rosselló, looking back over the summer, reported that there have been 56 forest fires this year, destroying 52 hectares of wood and scrub land compared to the 127 fires which swept across the region last year, devastating 333 hectares of land. In June, July and August of last year, the forestry protection department and emergency services battled 70 fires which destroyed 179 hectares, this year the figure fell by more than half to just 30 and only 32 hectares of woodland was effected by fire. Rosselló explained that this year the level of control by the forestry protection department has been greatly stepped up - both on the ground and in the air. However, she admitted that the poor weather has also played an important part and that heavy rains have helped to keep the forests damp. This year's forest fire campaign has cost 4.549.662 euros, eight per cent more than last year, but the Minister believes that huge reduction in the number of fires and environmental damage has made the investment worth while. She also pointed out that the forest fire campaign is now an annual operation, not just during the peak summer months. A substantial amount of money has been ploughed in to a number of reforestation projects in areas hard hit over the past few years by fire. Over the winter a new educational campaign “avoid fire” is to be launched and all of the Balearics' schools will be targeted in a bid to increase awareness.

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