Within PyroLife, I am doing my PhD on Community-based Communication at the Open University of Catalonia, Spain. Being somewhat of a globetrotter, I have a French-Italian name, come from the Netherlands, and have lived in many different countries, including Spain. Here, in a small rural village that I call home, I experienced a wildfire up close for the first time about 17 years ago. This experience sparked my interest in wildfires, and over the years this interest grew as I witnessed many more wildfires.
My research background joins the natural and social sciences, allowing me to work – with people on the ground – on all sorts of socio-environmental topics. For my Environmental Science bachelor at the UNED (Spain), I created an environmental education program for kids at a local school on forest fire prevention. At the Wageningen University (the Netherlands) I did a Master’s in Social Sciences and researched human-wolf conflicts, water conflicts, and rural depopulation. Afterwards, I collaborated within two European LIFE projects on pastoralism (Oreka Mendian and LiveAdapt).
While all these topics (socio-environmental conflicts, pastoralism, depopulation) might seem unrelated at first, they share common elements: communication and education, human-nature interactions, and rural communities, with fire as a transversal theme. All these aspects are important pillars for my research project at PyroLife, on Community-based Communication as a way towards socioenvironmental justice in the face of extreme wildfires.
Specifically, I am working on ‘Community-based Communication’ to complement current Risk Communication efforts, by creating more inclusive communicative approaches on wildfires and fully engage with wildfire disasters as socioecological, long-term, and complex processes. For this, I will do fieldwork in Spain and collaborate with secondment institutions from the USA (NFPA) and Germany (EFI).
It is great to be part of the international and transdisciplinary network of PyroLife. While our core focus is on wildfires, we are also interested in many complementary topics – like diversity and inclusion – which brings us together for spontaneous and creative collaborations across disciplines and sectors. Furthermore, everyone has a different (personal and professional) background, so we all contribute to the project through our diversity.
Lastly, PyroLife addresses the urgent need for a paradigm change, from fire suppression to Living with Fire: with such a great network, we are surely up to the task!