“Technology is the answer to the challenges of the forest”. Parque das Serras do Porto covered with cameras to detect fires, Porto Canal

15 de June de 2023

More than five thousand of the six thousand hectares of the Parque das Serras do Porto have been monitored since May 15 by four optical and thermal cameras, as part of the rePLANT program, an innovative and pioneering project in Portugal, which aims to strengthen the defense of forests against fires, which have proven to be a real nightmare.

Comprising six mountain ranges – Santa Justa, Pias, Castiçal, Santa Iria, Flores and Banjas – the park covers the municipalities of Gondomar, Paredes and Valongo, in the Metropolitan Area of Porto and covers an area of almost 6,000 hectares. Around 85% of this area will be monitored by the rePLANT project, developed by a consortium of REN, Navigator, SONAE and the University of Coimbra.

According to Carlos Fonseca, Scientific and Technological Director of CoLAB ForestWISE, the great innovation introduced with this mechanism is the use of high-voltage power transmission poles as places to install these cameras that will aim “not only to monitor, for example, the growth of vegetation in these fuel management strips on the power transmission lines, but also to be used in what is the detection of ignition, the evolution of the fire itself,” stressed the professor from the University of Aveiro.

Alexandre Almeida, president of the Porto Mountains Park Association, also welcomes the initiative, which will allow an “attack on the fire as efficient as possible”.

“These aren’t just simple cameras that detect a fire and give an alert. They are cameras with artificial intelligence, hence the involvement of universities in the development of this project, will make a connection to the body that manages the meteorology on the mainland and that will allow, depending on the weather conditions that day, make projections of how that fire may develop, “stresses the mayor of Paredes.

The cameras have a range of 10 kilometers and operate in 360 degrees 24 hours a day and can detect fire in the dark and can be an effective weapon. This is because in memory is the year 2022, in which Portugal was the 2nd European country most affected by forest fires with more than 949 square kilometers of burned area.

Other advantages associated with this have to do with the creation of robots that will allow the cleaning of land autonomously – a project that is still being developed, but will soon be on the ground.

Developing the forest, making it safer and proving that people and machines can work together is the face of this project that intends to change the paradigm of territorial defense.

In, Porto Canal, 14 June 2023 (PT)