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Forest fires in Tenerife and the impact on real estate on the island

Tenerife forest fires: Forest fires are increasingly ravaging southern Europe and the reasons are varied. Tenerife off North Africa also faced forest fires this summer. In this blog, we discuss the implications of this on real estate in the region.

Tenerife forest fire
Source : https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2023/08/18/al-bijna-3-300-hectare-verwoest-door-bosbrand-tenerife-brand-nog-niet-onder-controle-a4172226

Reasons for forest fires in Tenerife

Climate Change and Increased Risk

Climate change has made dry and hot conditions more intense in many parts of the world. Likewise on the island. Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall have increased the risk of forest fires in Tenerife.

Human Activities and Unintentional Fires

Besides natural factors, human activities also play a role in causing forest fires. Accidental fires due to negligence or improper management of fire are common causes. Some common, unintentional, human causes are:

  • glass shards acting as a lens
  • un-extinguished cigarettes
  • poor extinguishing of campfire
  • Fireworks

How to prevent forest fires

  • Do not leave litter lying around, glass and cans can reflect/concentrate the sun’s heat causing dry pine needles or leaves to catch fire.
  • Keep track of your cigarette butts. The heat from a cigarette can ignite dry grass or leaves.
  • Make any campfire away from risk areas and extinguish it properly afterwards (sand and water are ideal for this). Also, do not leave the place unattended if the fire is still smouldering. In dry periods, it is often even forbidden to light fires.
  • Do not use fireworks near trees. Especially not during dry periods.

Arson

In some cases, people also light fires on purpose. This was also the case with the current forest fires in Tenerife, the Guardia Civil confirms. This means no direct link can be made between climate change and the island’s current forest fires. Indeed, during a dry summer in Belgium, forest fires can easily occur here too if there is malicious intent.

Region in which forest fires occur in Tenerife

The current forest fires in Tenerife are occurring in the high mountain region of La Esperanza and affected Arafo, Candelaria, El Rosario, La Victoria, Santa Úrsula, La Orotava, La Matanza and El Sauzal. The zone of forest on fire has a perimeter of more than 40km and the plume of smoke already reached the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the north-east of the island.

Impact of Tenerife forest fires on real estate

Property near the affected area (both from the flames and the smoke) is obviously experiencing an impact and will undoubtedly depreciate in value (in the short term). Indeed, people will not dare to buy anything there any more soon. If the forest fires stay out, we do suspect that property prices will recover fairly quickly. Especially since at the time this article was written, no house was destroyed by the fires, nor was anyone injured. However, the fire did destroy about 7 per cent of the island’s surface.

However, for many people, the fires will not have an impact on the value of their home due to the following reasons:

Real estate hotspot in Tenerife

Tenerife’s real estate hotspot for second-home buyers, tourists and investors is in the south-west of the island, off La Caleta, Costa Adeje and Playa de las Américas. Completely in the opposite direction from the forest fires in Tenerife, which raged in the North-East. These hotspot homes are also often located on the coast, where there are no forests. So the risk of forest fires there is non-existent.

Natural protections

Apart from the fact that there are not many forests in this hotspot and forest fires are therefore impossible in southern Tenerife, the mountains in the centre of the island also offer protection. This in fact ensures that the smoke plume (in addition to the fire) cannot reach the South East via the wind. The mountain range (including the Teide, which rises more than 3,700m above sea level) is also the reason why the hotspot in the south-west has a pleasant climate all year round, as it is warmer by blocking the wind.

Impact

Because the region where mainly property is bought by foreigners is (almost) unaffected by the forest fires, the impact on property (prices) is also very small. Especially since there was talk of forest fires lit by people in Tenerife, so global warming also played no part in this story.

In short, the (new-build) property sector continues to flourish on the island, where prices are more stable than on the mainland.

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