LISBON, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Portuguese government passed a decree to create an integrated forestry management agency on Thursday, in response to wildfires that killed 116 people in 2017.
The Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita, told a press conference that the new agency would provide "integrated analysis, strategic planning and coordination" in combating rural fires.
Investigations into last year's forest fires showed that a major weakness in Portugal's handling of the crisis was a lack of a coordinated response.
Three separate entities have distinct responsibilities: the National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) handles firefighting; the National Republican Guard (GNR) polices the forests; the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF) is in charge of upkeep and reforestation.
The new agency, called the Integrated Management of Rural Fires (AGIF), will oversee the work of all three organizations. It is hoped that an integrated approach will not only improve Portugal's capacity for fighting fires but place extra emphasis on preventing them.
Cabrita said the AGIF would be fully operational by 2019.