7th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress

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.

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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.

‘Everything Was Incinerated’: Scenes From One Community Wrecked by the Santa Rosa Fire. Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/us/santa-rosa-california-fire.html
‘Everything Was Incinerated’: Scenes From One Community Wrecked by the Santa Rosa Fire. Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/us/santa-rosa-california-fire.html

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).

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Resources:

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

 

WUI Fires in July 2015

Author: Jordi Vendrell, R&D Department in Pau Costa Foundation.

July has been a month with high activity in WUI Fires in all the Mediterranean Basin, but especially in Iberian Peninsula, Greece and France with some small fires in Italy. Here we’ve done a little report summarizing the activity with the links to photos, videos and news.

In France, fires affected mainly the south of the country from Gironde Department to Bouches-du-Rhône and Var Department, but also in Dijon area. Fire caused around 10.000 evacuations in Var and burned near 500 hectares at 30 km from Bordeaux. Velaux (Bouches-du-Rhône) was also affected with 30 ha burned, and 160 ha were burned in Chênove (near Dijon).

  • Bouches-du-Rhône

http://www.laprovence.com/actu/faits-divers-en-direct/3514134/un-feu-de-foret-entre-velaux-et-coudoux.html

  • Côte-d’or

http://www.bienpublic.com/edition-dijon-agglo/2015/07/21/incendies-de-chenove-et-hauteville-les-cliches-de-nos-internautes

  • Gironde

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/faits-divers/incendies-en-gironde/video-feux-de-foret-en-gironde-les-habitants-evacues-peuvent-rentrer-chez-eux_1017865.html

  • Var

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/faits-divers/incendie/var-10-000-vacanciers-evacues-a-cause-des-incendies_1017869.html

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/faits-divers/incendie/incendie-dans-le-var-le-feu-n-est-plus-tres-actif-mais-pas-eteint_1017873.html

http://www.europe1.fr/faits-divers/incendie-dans-le-var-ou-en-est-on-1371168

Iberian Peninsula had WUI Fires activity in northeast (Aragón and Catalonia) and south (Extremadura and Andalucía). In the south, fires affected mainly rural interfaces:

  • Lújar (Granada)
  • Plasencia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8bAbaGcCmY&feature=youtu.be&a

Incendio-Plasencia_EDIIMA20150718_0372_18_ElDiario
Plasencia Fire. Source: El Diario

In the north part, fires affected WUI areas in Catalonia, where fires in Girona and in the backyard of Barcelona were the most covered by media. Forest fire in Luna (13000 ha) and Òdena (1200ha) has been the largest fires in this area. Luna fire burned a large forest and agricultural area, affecting rural-urban interface with the evacuation of some small villages. Òdena fire burned also a large forest and agricultural area but with affectation of WUI areas when fire went against to a residential area.

  • Girona

http://multimedia.diaridegirona.cat/fotos/girona/incendi-zona-est-girona-40245.shtml

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNVWc0HG2xg

Girona Fire. Sources: @324cat (left), @DiarideGirona (right)
Girona Fire. Sources: @324cat (left), @DiarideGirona (right)
  • Collserola

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt8pK1Uxasg

  • Odena

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zf3_rgVP464

Odena Fire. Source: Reuters.
Odena Fire. Source: Reuters
  • Luna

http://www.elperiodicodearagon.com/galerias/aragon/fotogaleria-incendio-termino-luna-cinco-villas_54291.html?inicio=0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tdBHkUKweE

Greece was also affected, with fires near Athens.

  • Athens

http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2015/jul/18/wildfires-sweep-hillsides-on-the-outskirts-of-athens-in-pictures

Athens Fire. Source: Reuters
Athens Fire. Source: Reuters

Italy had a small fire near Rome that caused the block and chaos in Fiumicino Airport

  • Roma

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/rome-airport-fire-flight-disruptions-wildfire-erupts-near-fiumicino-1513200