Second wave of wildfires burn in France

Another wave of wildfires has erupted in southwestern France this week, burning 6,000 hectares and forcing the evacuation of almost 6,000 people in an area already hit last month by huge blazes.

France, like the rest of Europe, is coping with heatwaves and drought that have triggered multiple wildfires across the continent over the past two months.

“The fire is rampant and has now spread to the Landes department,” local authorities of the wine-growing Gironde department said in a statement, adding that 500 firefighters were mobilised

The Gironde in southwestern France was hit in July by two wildfires which destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forest and led to the evacuation of almost 40,000 people.

Fires were also raging on Tuesday in other parts of the country, one in the southern departments of Lozere and Aveyron, where close to 600 hectares have already burnt and where Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is due to go later in the day.

Another fire is in the Maine et Loire department in western France, where 650 hectares have been scorched and 500 are threatened, according to local authorities.

Last month was the hottest July on record in France, according to the national weather agency Meteo France, the searing temperatures underlining the need to strengthen the country’s natural defences against global warming.

Paris in particular is in the spotlight for its lack of trees, and ranks poorly among global cities for its green cover. According to data from the World Cities Culture Forum, only 10% of Paris is made up of green space such as parks and gardens compared to London at 33% and Oslo at 68%.

Paris City Hall wants to create “islands of freshness” and plans to plant 170,000 trees by 2026. It is also ripping up the concrete in dozens of school yards and laying down soil and vegetation.

“It’s a massive tree and vegetation-planting project that is underway, much bigger than under previous administrations,” said Jacques Baudrier, deputy Paris mayor tasked with the green energy transition in buildings.

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