Driving around Gran Canaria is such a thrill. Or it is when I get used to being on the ‘wrong’ side of the road again. It’s brilliant sunshine somewhere, but a blanket of cloud wraps the mountains in sound-deadening white cover.
Pinus canariensis are big trees, at least they would be if the largest ones hadn’t been logged.
Many of these look dead. Their needles are completely brown.
They look better in black and white in this mist. Surely their trunks aren’t meant to be so black?
The Canary Island Pine’s needles are long and thin. Amazingly they’re a vital part of supplying fresh water to the Island. Their needles capture water from the cloud, fog and mist and drip it to the ground. All that moist air off the Atlantic Ocean gets deprived of some of its vital water by these natural sponges. Human deforestation leads to drought which leads to deforestation. It’s a vicious cycle.
In August 2019 a man who was welding set a fire which burned 1,500 hectares. 1,000 people had to be evacuated and it took 15 days to fully extinguish.
A few days later, another fire started and 8,000 people had to be evacuated. It’s left a strange and desolate landscape, denuded of life, with little vegetation in the understory.
Canary Island Pines are one of the most fire-resistant trees.
They need to be. In the future towns and villages will have to be fire resistant too.