Considering the Eucalypt

Near Vila de Cruces, September 2019

It’s hard to ignore the ubiquity of eucalyptus in Galicia, especially on the coast. Introduced to and spread throughout the region as a cash crop for paper pulp, a eucalypt plantation is low-maintenance and fast-growing. It’s also notoriously fire-prone and a scourge for autochthonous flora and fauna. With so many Galicians having emigrated to other countries or the cities, agricultural labor is sparse in the rural areas and it’s easy to see why land owners would plant it.

Forest fires, usually intentionally set, worry many in the area. Most of Galicia has been under “extreme” fire risk for the last few days. There are even Twitter accounts to monitor bombeiro activity.

This forestry map was shared by journalist David Lombao on Twitter. The provinces with the least eucalyptus are Lugo and Ourense.

Phase 3 to la Nueva Normalidad in Galicia

The Xunta of Galicia, the autonomous community government, will allow inter-provincial travel as the region enters phrase 3 of the deescalation/transition starting Monday (along with 46% of the Spanish population in other communities). Phase 3 will be directed by the autonomous governments rather than the national government of Sanchez, and they will decide when they are ready to transition out of phase 3 to the “new normal”.

Galicia has long petitioned for inter-provincial travel during these phases. I’ve seen some interesting stories about people living next to provincial borders not being able to easily get groceries, as the market is in the other province. In fact O Bloque Nacionalista Galega, the left-wing Galician nationalist party that holds one seat in the Congress of Deputies, has abstained from Sanchez’s state of alarm renewals due to this unrequited request.

Galicia with a population of 2.7 million, currently has a total of 11,172 COVID-19 cases with 609 fatalities. The cases per million is 4,138 and the fatalities per million is 226. Of the 17 autonomous communities and the 2 autonomous Moroccan enclave cities, Galicia falls about in the middle of severity in cases and deaths.

Personally, this means we can cross the río Sil and explore Terra de Lemos, the heart of the Ribeira Sacra, in a few weeks on a first road real van trip of the year. The van life is excellent for maintaining social distance I might add. After that, we plan to head back to Rías Baixas on the coast for a few days of beach before all the madrileños are able to make their post-coronavirus summer holiday exodus from the capital.

While I still love our village and the adjacent town, I’m ready to move around responsibly, hike, take photos of something other than the monte, enjoy the spring and summer weather, and take advantage of all that Galicia has to offer.