Towards an Integrated Fire Management
Free Webinar Series – 2020
Free Webinar Series – 2020
Fire is a natural process and as such, humans have been living with fire for a long time. However, recent wildfires in traditionally fire prone areas of Southern Europe have shown that fire behaviour has changed beyond what is currently understood. This shows the need for a better approach to prevention and adaptation. In Northwest Europe, traditionally seen as less fire prone, people on the ground are seeing the increased dangers of fire to their communities; yet awareness of their institutions and populations remains low.
Hence, a strong need exists for thinking beyond the current paradigms of dealing with fire only when it occurs. The challenges lie in predicting the future behaviour of fire in a changed climate, assessing the consequences for fire management, and preparing for the impacts on human communities. With this in mind, Europe must develop strategies in order to live with fire. Local and traditional knowledges about living with fire have informed many cultures at least as long as the age of our oldest stories, and while countries worldwide have different strengths in terms of approaches to fire management, and a broad range of scientific disciplines continue to develop concepts, we can stop “re-inventing the wheel” while implementing Integrated Fire Management.
The goal of this symposium therefore is to create new international links across scientific fields and disciplines, in order to get a better view on what Integrated Fire Management should look like across Europe and internationally. While this symposium represents the scientific kick-off of the Pyrolife ITN training network, researchers and interested parties from other institutes are warmly invited to watch this symposium, to allow broader and deeper connections to take root.
Though the symposium is now past, our webinar recordings are free! Links to the recordings are included below each presentation description.
Dr. Cathelijne Stoof; Wageningen University
In this talk I will sketch the major current challenges and opportunities in wildland fire, and argue that a diverse approach is needed to move from fire resistance to landscape resilience: Living with Fire. I will introduce the PyroLife project with its training and research program, based on four axes of diversity, which are cross-geography, cross-risk, science-practice and social diversity.
Marc Castellnou Ribau; Inspector cap Area Forestal. Incident Commander. Strategic wildfire analyst.
Recent years have seen an increase on fire intensity and rate of spread. We call them “megafires” or “fire storms.” They are occurring more often and more widespread than before. We will go through the drivers of this change and will try to identify future scenarios for this area.
Some think of fire as a great leveler, uninterested in wealth or social status. The truth, however, is very different: incidents and impacts of fire are not distributed evenly throughout society, but tend to be concentrated among poorer and more marginalized communities. This presentation will share examples of fire safety inequality, and propose a way forward to create a safer and more resilient world – for everyone.
The industry needs methodologies and tools for improved fire management, decision-making and planning in order to minimize damage and impacts on the environment and society. Applied fire science must support all the challenges that fire agencies face during the fire seasons through an appropriate knowledge transfer. Communication among all involved stakeholders will be necessary to improve fire management, software, tools, products and services to finally protect assets in a more efficient way.
Peter Moore; Forestry Officer Fire Management, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
The world is on fire! or similar was a heading in the media, journals and other communication throughout 2019 and up until COVID-19. In 2000 WWF and IUCN released a review a global review of forest fires due to the many high profile fire events of 1998-1999. In between there have been many high profile fires, many many reports and reviews and too many no-profile fires to count. Almost without exception the high profile fires are in the developed world where there are also many no-profile fires. The developing world sees very few high profile fires apart from South East Asia (mainly Indonesia) and the Amazon Region. Why is that so? What might an examination of this show us? This presentation will work to provide a view of where fires happen, why they occur and what the very different contexts might show us. It will not answer the question, just complicate it!
Bertram L. de Rooij -MSc bnt
The presentation ‘Enabling landscapes’ will go into the crucial role narratives and landscape play in future wildfire management and the way forward. Valuable lessons from the EU PLACARD project on strategic narratives, the future perspective NL2120 and the Dutch practice on Delta planning (water) and area based approaches on wild fire management will be combined. How to deal with current emergencies and emerging issues in a comprehensive, integrated approach that enables?
Over the last decades we have seen a shift in how we deal with floods in the Netherlands. From a focus of (only) preventing floods and getting rid of the water as soon as possible to an approach of “living with water” in which we accept flood risks and taking more advantage of the water. The key question I would like to discuss is if we can use similar approaches in the fire management: From a core focus on fighting and preventing towards a living with fire approach. In this presentation I will introduce the living with water concept and approach and how this has changed water management of the last decade and then discuss if and how this concept could be used in fire management.
It was predicted, and yet came a surprise. Forests and landscapes in North Western Europe are on fire. A short memo on how fire is managed in these new places, the value of international experience exchange and why adaptation to new risks is so slow.
Paulo Fernandes; Associate Professor, University of Trás-os-Montes & Alto Douro, Portugal
An overview of the current large-fire problem in Mediterranean Europe will be given, with reference to specific events that stand out. The presentation will include how extreme fire activity relates and is driven by trends in land use and landscape changes, fire management policies and fire weather. Finally, I will conclude by briefly addressing current and future fire-related societal challenges.
Lisa Langer; Senior scientist and Assistant Research Leader, Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute)
Historically wildfires in New Zealand have been relatively small but frequent and predominately caused by human activities. A 25% increase in wildfires was experienced in 2016-17 with larger wildfires occurring in close proximity to urban areas. Management of wildfires requires more than an understanding of technical and behavioural issues of fire and a corresponding emphasis on response. It is essential also to identify influences behind rural and rural-urban communities’ wildfire risk perceptions and to understand how to encourage complex, diverse communities towards better preparation for wildfires, with particular attention to indigenous Māori who are integral to New Zealand communities.
During the summer of 2019/20 Australia suffered unprecedented wildfires. In these fires 33 people died, and another 450 people were killed from the effects of smoke from the fires. The fires burnt across 10 million hectares, decimating wildlife, forests, agriculture and infrastructure with 3,000 homes lost. Amid the crisis, people sought for solutions to better address fire management. Attention turned to Aboriginal fire knowledge and practice. For Aboriginal people, who are the longest continuing culture on Earth, fire is an integral feature of Aboriginal culture and is founded on a healthy respectful relationship of coexistence within the natural world, what is sometimes referred to as caring for Country. Aboriginal people successfully lived with fire for thousands of generations prior to European colonisation. As part of Aboriginal peoples’ self-determining action, efforts are being made to maintain and reinvigorate Aboriginal fire knowledge and practice, including in locations where it has been marginalised through colonisation such as in the south east of the continent where the effects of colonisation first impacted. My research seeks to promote the voices of Aboriginal women within Aboriginal cultural burning in NSW. Aboriginal people are a minority group nationally, and Aboriginal women experience intersectional challenges to their full participation in caring for Country.
Collaborative work between fire research and management is fundamental to identify solutions and to reach out policy makers and society with the right messages and call to action. A series of practices engaging different actors in research projects will be discussed to identify the ones that help lead to successful stories.
Lucian Deaton; Program Manager, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
While a wildfire is a natural occurrence, the loss of communities to fire is not. Community engagement and empowerment can stop life and property loss from wildfire and keep the wildfire from becoming a disaster. This presentation will share how the Firewise USA® Program, and its international adaptations, engage residents as an “informed public” and make them a resource to local Fire services when there is a wildfire. Lessons for researchers and practitioners will be shared from US community examples and international efforts that have found success, with emphasis on social equity in face of the risk.
George Boustras; Professor in Risk Assessment / Director, CERIDES – Excellence in Innovation and Technology, European University Cyprus
Examples of work for Governmental and International Organizations on how to turn, effectively, fire safety engineering and management to policy context and reforms will be presented and discussed.
Míriam Arenas Conejo; PhD in Sociology. Researcher of CareNet group, IN3- Open University of Catalonia.
Risks and its impacts are unevenly distributed among the world’s population, and those social groups in the most disadvantaged situations are usually those who face the hardest consequences. However, many risk management strategies are still designed using top-down approaches and with a homogeneous image of our societies. It aggravates not only previous inequalities but also ignores the knowledge and capabilities that many communities already have, gained through their daily lives or past experiences. Tackling climate change requires us more than ever, the development of new approaches that integrate the inherent complexity of social processes in a globalised world.
Photo credit (banner): Kyle Miller