Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

Firefighters in Estella

  • At first glance, the photo flock looks like a normal flock, right? Because those sheep are also firefighters. The Zunbeltz Rural Test Center of Navarra has launched a new and innovative service in Tierra Estella: Arsue, or Extensive Herd Firefighter. “This is a small project, pioneering in Navarre and the Basque Country, which started inside the Zunbeles,” explains Oihan Moreno Arriaran, a Zunbeltz technician. It is a herd of 40 sheep who, in order to prevent fires, offer a forest cleaning service. The service has been set in motion to fill the gap caused by the loss of livestock and to prevent fires such as those that occurred in Navarra two years ago.

27 May 2024 - 05:00

Zunbeltz has launched the pilot project in collaboration with the Innovalocal project of the Caja Navarra and La Caixa foundations. “We have purchased special necks for sheep, which seem to be a kind of modern censorship and which serve to put a virtual barrier to animals,” Moreno explains. Through a mobile application you can control the neck of each sheep to see the current position of each sheep and set limits. “When the mobile animal approaches the established virtual barrier, the collar emits a sound as a warning. They gradually learn that they have to step back with that sound,” explains the technique. If you continue, the collar gives you a little flush similar to the electrical barrier.

As Moreno explained, Norway and other countries are more developed, but in our case the Arsue project is a pioneer. “With these virtual barriers we avoid closing the entire fenced mountain, which means significant costs,” he says. In addition, monitoring all sheep makes it easier to know where and what the herd is and to ensure that they have passed through all the areas they want to clean. The new service is provided to both public and private entities. For the time being, they have reached the first agreement with the City of Estella: the herd firefighter will carry out two months in the area of Santa Barbara.

Extensive livestock, key to preventing fires

“With the great fires that occurred in this area of Navarre two years ago, the local municipalities began to design fire plans. In addition, high-risk municipalities are obliged to do so”, explains Moreno. The project has been created to cover the lack of pastors in many villages. “There were other animals among our possibilities, but in the end we decided to catch the sheep thinking they are ‘light’ or easy.” In other localities such as Legarda, in the vicinity of Mount Erreniega, Galloway cows have been thrown to clean the mountain.

“In the end it is said that the investment of two xentims on the mountain saves a euro in fires. All it takes is to save, so it’s important to invest in having won in our mountains to keep us clean and to be part of the ecosystem.”

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