The Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy of the Netherlands, Christianne van der Wal, accompanied by a delegation representing the country's environmental stakeholders, today visited the Generalitat Fire Service Central Complex to learn about the management model for forest fires and emergencies used in Catalonia. The Dutch delegation was accompanied by the Minister for Home Affairs, Joan Ignasi Elena, the Director General of Fire Prevention, Firefighting and Rescue, Joan Delort, the Chief Inspector of the Fire Service, David Borrell, and other Fire Service commanders.

The visit is part of an exchange of knowledge between members of the Forest Action Group (GRAF) of the Generalitat de Catalunya Fire Service, and senior officials from the Brandweer Nederland, the Dutch fire service, who will be visiting Catalonia from 12 to 14 June.

The Minister of the Interior, Joan Ignasi Elena, who gave a very positive assessment of his Dutch counterpart's visit to the central fire service facility, said that the interest of the Dutch government and its fire service in learning about the Catalan management model “makes us feel very proud”. “The Dutch minister considered the Catalan fire service and emergency system to be a benchmark in Europe,” said Elena.

The Dutch Minister Christianne van der Wal said she was “very impressed with how the Generalitat's Fire Service operates”. “Our visit over the past few days has helped us learn about managing fires. There is a great deal of knowledge and experience here," she said. Van de Wal explained that the Netherlands is a "small country with a lot of people who live close to nature," and climate change and global warming means an increased risk of fires.

The Netherlands is updating its firefighting models to meet new challenges related to climate change. The Forestry Action Group of the Generalitat de Catalunya Fire Service has taken part in operational exchanges with its Dutch counterparts, dealing with both fires and in prescribed burns, and the Catalan authorities have selected the Catalan model in order to explore new avenues for management in this field.

The aim is for the relationship to lead to an exchange of experiences between the two institutions, which share many similarities, and to gain knowledge of forest fire management in areas outside the Mediterranean and experience in other risks that the Dutch have overcome, such as flooding and water management.

The points of interest highlighted by the Dutch delegation include the role played by firefighters in emergencies, prevention and networking with other bodies involved in emergencies and safety. They were also informed about the Service's links and exchanges with industrial stakeholders and academic research, as well as its model for communicating with society, the implementation of policies including fire as a factor in landscape disturbance, and the inclusion of biodiversity in new challenges for planning.

At the Cerdanyola facilities, the Dutch delegation saw how the Central Fire Department of the Generalitat de Catalunya operated, and the role played by the Forest Action Group in providing support. Yesterday, members of the Forest Action Group gave a demonstration of cases and good practices in fire situations in Cap de Creus Natural Park, in a joint visit with those involved in planning for the prevention and extinguishing of forest fires in this area: members of Natural Park personnel, the Forest Service of the Ministry of Climate Action, the Alt Empordà Association of Forest Defence Groups, Girona Provincial Council, Wageningen University & Research, the Nederlands Instituut Publieke Veiligheid, Brandweer Nederland and members of the Forest Management Area of the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC).

The Dutch delegation's visit was organised by the Dutch fire service and the Pau Costa Foundation, which is made up of experts in forest fire prevention and firefighting.



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