Serras do Porto Park covered with cameras to prevent fires, JN

17 de May de 2023

More than five thousand of the six thousand hectares of the Parque das Serras do Porto are now monitored by four optical and thermal cameras, as part of rePLANT, an innovative and pioneering project in Portugal, which was developed in consortium by REN, Navigator, SONAE and the University of Coimbra.

“This is a super-innovative project, which began to be developed about three years ago and will be implemented for the first time in the Parque das Serras do Porto”, said Alexandre Almeida, Mayor of Paredes and also of the Associação Parques das Serras do Porto.

The project, called rePLANT, aims to introduce innovations in the defense of forests against wildfires and was presented this Monday in Aguiar de Sousa, in the so-called “meeting point”, the place of the Sierras of Porto where the municipalities of Gondomar, Paredes and Valongo converge, the three municipalities that the park covers.

Comprising six mountains – Santa Justa, Pias, Castiçal, Santa Iria, Flores and Banjas – of the municipalities of Gondomar, Paredes and Valongo, of the Metropolitan Area of Porto, the Park of Porto Mountains has an extension of about 6,000 hectares. 5,100 hectares, 85% of the territory, will now be under the surveillance of the rePLANT project.

According to Alexandre Almeida, this project brings several innovations, “the most important” being the introduction of four cameras with optical sensors, with a range of 10 kilometers and operating at 360 degrees 24 hours a day, which will be in strategically placed REN posts and will allow smoke and ignitions to be detected in about 85% of the territory of the Serras do Porto Park. “It’s great because 85% of the Park will be monitored in real time, which will allow GNR and REN to know about the appearance of smoke and fires,” he said. The autonomous monitoring of this system will have an interconnection with the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) that will assess atmospheric conditions, allowing projections to be made on how the fire will develop while there is no fight. The system will also be connected to the GNR and the National Civil Protection Authority.

Other advantages of this project have to do with the creation of robots that will allow the cleaning of land autonomously – a project that is still being developed, but is already taking its first steps – as well as an application that will also allow the evaluation of trees, their size, volume and height, “allowing better forest management,” stressed the president.

Also under this project, which represents an investment of 5.6 million euros – supported by Compete/Portugal 2020, through the POCI and Lisbon 2020 programs – artificial intelligence measures were also presented, which will be applied to equipment that is already used in the cleaning of forests. “When these machines are in use, they will take information from the forest, from levels of cleaning, from the amount of material cleaned, allowing us to integrate this information to have an even greater knowledge of the forest,” explained Alexandre Almeida.

Developing the forest, making it safer and proving that people and machines can work together, creating an ecosystem of greater active protection is the goal of rePLANT, which was created to be implemented in other municipalities. “This project is a very big gain for our territory”, guaranteed Alexandre Almeida, highlighting the fact that it comes at a time when the Associação Parques das Serras do Porto is seeking to classify the Park with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). “At this time when we want the forest of the Parque das Serras do Porto to become a PGI area and have access to other funding to develop it, everything that is protection against fire risk is essential to us,” concluded the president.

In, JN, 15 May 2023 (PT)