A CLUSTER of cypress trees that survived the recent blaze in Valencia has left scientists baffled.
According to aerial images, 50,000 acres around the town of Andilla were left completely scorched following the fires.
That is except for a vibrant patch of 946 green cypress trees, which survived completely unscathed.
Now scientists are investigating why the cypresses, planted 22 years ago, were the only vegetation to have survived, sparking a debate about whether ‘fireproof’ trees might be the answer to preventing the spread of wildfires.
“The trees acted like a screen against the fire,” explained Bernabe Moya, the director of forestry for the Valencia region.
“They could be planted strategically: between three and 15 lines of cypresses to reinforce the firebreaks in hard to-reach areas,” he added.
Others remain sceptical.
“We will have to find out what really happened,” said Raul de la Calle of the Official Association of Technical Forest Engineers.
“The cypress is not a very combustible species, but to the point that it doesn’t burn at all. There is no such thing as a fireproof tree,” he said.
Meanwhile others believe planting the trees could actually have a damaging effect on the environment.
“Introducing a species that isn’t native is a mistake. It changes the ecosystem and endangers the rest of the flora,” said Nicolas Lopez, a botanist and expert in species conservation at SEO Birdlife.