946 9-metre-high cypresses stand still amongst a landscape of ashes. After 5 interminable days of fire in Valencia, Spain, July 2012, a green spot enhances the blackness of its surroundings, where pines, holm oaks and junipers used to be. The mystery of using cypresses as natural fire-breakers goes on. Under the same climatic circumstances experienced by its neighbouring trees, this variety of Mediterranean cypress prevented the flames to spread farther. There seems to be three reasons: the fact that few dry dead branches accumulate underneath because of the acidification of the soil; the thin and dense layer of growing humus that keeps the trunk humid; and compact branches preventing wind to go through.
Flames attacked only 1.26% of the treetops; and only 10% of the leaves in all trees were dehydrated. This has led to wider experiments of controlling a territory by using them as strategic fireproof agents, such as the pan-Mediterranean CypFire research (multiple-rowed cypresses barriers against fires), despite detractors alleging in favour of vernacular species.
[source & image> El Enigma de los Cipreses Ignífugos_Joaquín Gil/El Pais]