FIRE-ADAPT kicks off

On January 25th and 26th, 15 European and 9 Latin American organizations held the first virtual meeting of “FIRE-ADAPT” to take the first steps and define the initial actions of the project. “FIRE-ADAPT” will investigate the benefits of fire in nature and society by integrating diverse areas of knowledge, from both the academic and operational world. This project is a Staff Exchanges program of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Union, and it has a total budget of 1,278,800 euros.

“FIRE-ADAPT” is an international, collaborative and interdisciplinary research project, focusing on the role of Integrated Fire Management (IFM) in climate change adaptation for ecosystem services, in tropical and subtropical regions. Specifically, the project will investigate the role of ecosystem management practices, such as prescribed fire, in enhancing biodiversity, carbon sequestration and values for local communities, which are called ecosystem and cultural services. To this end, “FIRE-ADAPT” will facilitate the mobilization of researchers and professionals through this knowledge exchange network.

Participants will be from the public and private sectors. They will participate in exchanges in the 10 European and Latin American partner countries: Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and the United Kingdom. “FIRE-ADAPT” is the first network of scientists and professionals in IFM between two continents. In addition to creating new research, the project aims at generating and empowering networks to exchange knowledge. And, in addition, we focus on a very specific area of knowledge compared to other fire projects: analyzing how IFM practices impact on ecosystem services and cultural services in an integrated way, which makes the project unique” says Núria Prat-Guitart, project area manager at the Pau Costa Foundation and coordinator of the project together with Imma Oliveras, scientific coordinator and researcher from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).

A key feature of “FIRE-ADAPT” is the realization of the so-called study hubs, which are located in three
regions in Latin America and three in Europe where research, training and knowledge exchange meetings will be held. In addition, the study hubs will organize different actions: one will take place in Mexico and
will address practical aspects of prescribed burning; another one will be a symposium in Argentina on
interdisciplinary approaches to Integrated Fire Management and there will be other study hubs in Brazil, France and Italy that will organize (pyro tours) visits where the use of fire plays a relevant role.

“The study hubs are platforms for transdisciplinarity. They provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge among experts and involve local actors, whether from civil society or resource management in the area,” adds Imma Oliveras.

The first study hub will take place in mid-year in Catalonia and it will include events open to participants outside the project.

“There will be a central week to specify the tasks, but there will also be some field trips to get to know
different areas of Catalonia where forest management has been carried out to prevent wildfires. The idea is that “FIRE-ADAPT” participants can come for longer, and that during the weeks before and after the central week, they can collaborate with us in the collection of data that will later be used in the project’s products”, describes Pere Casals, from the Centro de Ciencia y Tecnología Forestal de Cataluña (CTFC), and leader of the project’s carbon working group.

The project has a novel vision of integrating existing knowledge with newly generated research in different countries. In addition to obtaining scientific results, such as studying carbon dynamics in ecosystems and biodiversity conservation, it aims to transfer them to the general public in a more participatory way.

“There is a very negative image of fire. We come from decades of policies of total exclusion, of policies
where we invest in extinction, but not in prevention. I hope that “FIRE-ADAPT” contributes to a paradigm shift where the beneficial effects of Integrated Fire Management are seen in fire prevention and the conservation of ecosystem services, ” concludes Imma Oliveras.

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