canary islands

The tenacious Acentejo laurel forest endures Tenerife’s blaze

Three weeks after the fire ravaged nearly 15,000 hectares, DIARIO DE AVISOS reports the gradual resurgence of life in Corona Forestal.

In the enclave of La Hornaca, located within the municipality of Tacoronte on the island of Tenerife, a resilient flora endures despite the recent devastating fires. Species like Laurisilva, Follao Canario (Viburnum rigidum Vent), various laurels, heathers, and even remnants of eucalyptus trees have survived. The region is known for its perpetual cloud cover, earning it the nickname “the forest of fog.” The area’s intense humidity has been a life-saver, allowing the vegetation to withstand the flames that have engulfed the island since August 15th.

Venturing deeper into this charred but resilient forest, one can still detect the acrid scent of burnt wood and spot glowing embers. The fire has reached a state of stability but remains unextinguished. It has ravaged a staggering 88.45 square kilometres on Tenerife, severely impacting 12 municipalities, including Tacoronte. Here, residents of Agua García and Barranco Las Lajas were temporarily evacuated as a precaution.

The Acentejo laurel forest endures Tenerife's blaze.

This fire has been the most catastrophic in the Canary Islands in the last four decades and the worst Spain has seen in 2023. Within Tacoronte, firefighters, Brifor, Civil Protection units, aerial assets, and security forces all collaborated to preserve what remains of the laurel forests in Agua García. This forest, along with those in Anaga and Teno, is a sanctuary for ancient vines, referred to as “centenary guardians.” One such vine near the Cuevas de Toledo is estimated to be 800 years old and is affectionately called “the grandfather.”

The upper reaches of the forest were most heavily impacted by the fire, but the lower areas where the laurel forests are best preserved were saved. The natural moisture retention capabilities of these trees played a pivotal role, despite the aridity of their leaves.

Arsenio Gómez, the councillor for Ecological Transition, Primary Sector and Parks and Gardens, underscores the need for collective responsibility. “While this forest doesn’t regenerate as quickly as pine forests, its preservation is crucial. Improving access roads, clearing undergrowth, and enhanced forest management should be on everyone’s agenda. The need goes beyond mere conservation to active management and even the development of grazing economies around the woodland,” he emphasises.


The local Consistory has yet to finalise the tally of the scorched hectares, citing that various mountain routes are currently closed, limiting the assessment. According to preliminary estimates from the Island Council of Tenerife, the number is hovering around 300 hectares. “We need to refine these numbers further to assess the full extent of the areas completely burnt, partially affected, or merely dried out by the extreme heat,” Arsenio Gómez explains. If the data is accurate, it would represent a significant loss, nearly accounting for half of the 600-hectare municipal forest.

Councillors Arsenio Gómez and Jesús Acosta, the latter responsible for Public Lighting, Water and Sanitation, and Family Support and Addictions, joined the DIARIO DE AVISOS team on a tour of the afflicted region. Acosta, a resident of Agua García, had the emotionally taxing role of evacuating neighbours and friends during the crisis.

Burnt foliage primarily includes reineta apple trees, some quince trees, and an extensive undergrowth of bramble. Gómez emphasises that the bramble “burns like gunpowder,” and advocates for the reintroduction of grazing to mitigate the severity of future fires.

Impact on the Primary Sector

As for the repercussions on the primary sector, the Town Council has initiated a communication channel via the Farmers’ Market and social media platforms. To date, no significant damage to farmland has been reported, except for some fruit trees and local beekeepers who had to relocate their hives to other municipalities.

Animal husbandry operations, predominantly housing equines, were successfully evacuated, and there’s currently no indication of damage to these enterprises. Gómez, who also oversees the primary sector, maintains that they are still in the data collection phase. “We have to respect the ongoing entry restrictions to the forest, especially as the fire is not yet completely under control,” he notes cautiously.

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