An event at the end of a 2017 that makes us look into the future of wildfires!
Last November 2017 Pau Costa Foundation took part of the 7th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress organised by the Association for Fire Ecology, this edition with the topic of ‘Fire Vision 20/20: A 20-year reflection and look into the future’. The conference was a great opportunity for sharing knowledge on fire ecology and wildfire management with over 500 participants and companies.
The event in Florida was a meeting point for scientists and practitioners mostly from the North America, but also from Europe, South America and Asia. Florida, which is a 170,304 km2 state managing 10% of the lands with prescribed fire, was a great hosting location for such a conference. Fire experts were there to demonstrate the large experience on ecosystem management done by some communities, the scientific advances and the impacts and benefits of prescribed fires.
Several talks and workshops reviewed the intense 2017 wildfire season that strongly affected North America, and also further regions around the world. Overwhelming of firefighting is now a fact, everywhere. Wildfires are getting more complex as they affect wildland and also WUIs, the later often with difficult access and surrounded by wild forests, giving no opportunities for emergency services. With 2017 wildfire alarming season as a precedent, wildfires become social-driven natural disasters. A challenge requiring more communication and social science.
Resilient landscapes are needed to face the current and future threats of more intense and complex wildfires, worsen by the climate change and the increasing lack of landscape management. Among other management techniques, one way to contribute getting this resilience is through a more extensive use of fire as an ecosystem management tool, which at the same time could benefit biodiversity. Always based on scientific evidence.
The culture of fire has been lost for decades, and now we need to bring it back. There seems to be a consensus between the community of practitioners and scientists on that matter. Yet, more efforts are required to make sure both communities, scientific and practitioner, understand each other and work together on applied science, reach society and influence legislation. These challenges and opportunities are a reality applicable to all of us, regardless of the geographic location.
Marc Castellnou (Chief of the Forest Fire Division of the Catalan Fire and Rescue Service of Catalonia and also President of the Pau Costa Foundation) demonstrated the experience of his team using fire ecology as a tool for fire suppression in Europe and other fires fought elsewhere. Overwhelming of suppression agencies by wildfires requires thinking out of the box. Firefighting agencies need to build more trust and credibility, based on science and experience, to convince the society about the ecological use of fire as an ecosystem management tool that will help avoiding catastrophic situations. Society needs to understand the risk they are exposed to and trust the experts who are facing real wildfire situations. This way, potential loses of assets and structures can be understood (link to video below).
Photos of the event from Joaquin Ramirez, including all posters presented: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMCBO2CqSjwKCllPAwCm2XBXjBuyPWE1rJDOJ9HcdTQCxiXtZisGmV20Utvkrfx_w?key=M3dJWm5kaGQ4QlR0NWE1ZDlQTFhfQUpLQW53MlBR
The videos of featured presentations are available in the AFE website: https://fireecology.org/2017-Videos
Marc Castellnou presentation on Using Fire Ecology in South American and European Landscapes : https://mediasite.video.ufl.edu/Mediasite/Play/6c425c2e9d00499fba3cc56e661eeb1c1d