Technical workshop on best fuel management practices and smart solutions for wildfire risk mitigation
Under the project PREVAIL, within the program of the DG ECHO, a series of good practices were presented in order to mitigate the risk of forest fires and promote rural development in the Mediterranean region
In this morning workshop, a series of real, viable and applicable solutions related to agro-forestry management and landscape conservation were shared in order to mitigate the virulence and impact of the current large forest fires.
Six different initiatives from Portugal, Spain and Italy were presented, classified into two main areas: 'Active Prevention' and 'Passive Prevention'. The first one referring to all those practices that integrate fuel management in the strategic planning for the extinction of forest fires. The second, 'Passive Prevention' is one that includes fuel management through the maintenance of forestry, agricultural and livestock activities in the territory and that affect the vegetation and forest fabric on a landscape scale.
As underlined Anna barbati, Tuscia University (Italy) and coordinator of the PREVAIL project, one of the main objectives of the project is to contribute to the improvement of the response capacity and emergency management through prevention at the landscape scale 'Managing the landscape is an effective and economical way to mitigate the virulence of large fires foresters' highlighted the coordinator.
Barbati wanted to highlight the complexity that exists in articulating landscape management, since it depends on multiple factors such as the ability to encourage forest management in unprofitable areas with fragmented ownership, the limits on subsidies (mainly granted for him Rural Development Program) or certain gaps in the legal framework in some European regions.
One of the challenges to be addressed is the lack of sustainability in fuel management at the landscape scale. Therefore, it is key to echo the grassroot initiatives, which demonstrate how effectively these projects are feasible in order to manage fuel in the landscape we have today.
As highlighted Eduard Plana, expert in forest policy and risk governance of the CTFC, Center for Forest Science and Technology of Catalonia, a peculiarity of fires compared to other natural risks is that there is a high capacity to act on the degree of danger (severity of the fire) through fuel management. As a consequence, the management of the territory contributes directly to the capacity to protect the population and the infrastructures against the impact of fires. Plana summed it up with the phrase "we must have the ability to move from a landscape that amanances us to a landscape that protects us", responding to the objectives of the Civil Protection Mechanism of the European Commission where this project is framed.
In this sense, within the framework of the project, the CTFC team proposed specific criteria to locate smart initiatives for fuel management and risk mitigation that are characterized by being implemented in a sustainable and cost-efficient way, optimizing synergies and cooperation between the actors and policies of the risk phases to optimize different objectives and integrating knowledge (traditional and innovative) and lessons learned.
Some of the difficulties and challenges to implement risk mitigation solutions at the landscape scale were presented schematically as a result of the interviews carried out in the project, such as competition over the funds available for fire prevention, the need for enable new compensation mechanisms for the preventive function of agricultural activity, or the importance of generating effective synergies between prevention policies, economic and territorial development and nature conservation.
Likewise, the workshop presented the web module that includes the initiatives and good practices of fuel management and risk mitigation selected in the project with the aim of representing the diversity of solutions and carrying out the qualitative analysis on the challenges and opportunities to implement solutions based on landscape management. This interactive map is located in the Lessons On Fire, a knowledge repository on forest fires, started in 2014 with the Project FIREfficient also within the program of the DG ECHO.
In this particular case, there are already more than 30 initiatives from all over Europe with their corresponding fact sheet. This selection is intended to be a starting point and the objective is to expand the initiatives, since in a very intuitive way the user of the Lessons On Fire You can easily register and share your experience by filling out a form.
Active and passive prevention
- Case study of the Tuscan Region Forest Fire Fighting Training Center
Luca tonarelli of the organization DREAM, Italy, shared with the public how the Training Center of the Regione Toscana (Italy) was created with the aim of training technical personnel in the region to manage forest fires.
Tonarelli shared how various fuel management training modules have been developed in the last ten years. For example, mechanical treatments have been carried out on the ground or prescribed burning in planned areas.
- Improve landscape resilience to large forest fires:
Likewise, the mayor of Bruc, Bàrbara Ortuño y David Sàez, from the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation explained how the synergies between strategic planning of forest fire risk, rural development and nature conservation at the local level reinforce in their areas.
The municipality of El Bruc is located on the slopes of the Montserrat Natural Park. The forest lands are combined with olive and cereal crops, in addition to the places of high tourist interest.
The municipality is developing various initiatives to improve the resilience of the landscape and the capacity to protect urbanized areas and natural values from the large forest fires that the territory has suffered in recent years.
In synergy with the European project LIFE Montserrat, Various strategic areas to support firefighting tasks have been managed with the aim of increasing the resilience and stability of forests against fires, also contributing to the improvement and conservation of biodiversity and, finally, enhancing the activity traditional livestock as a fire prevention tool. At the same time, initiatives are being developed at the municipal level to promote and improve local development strategies such as the promotion of an olive oil appellation of origin, an association of forest owners or the improvement of the risk culture among residents and visitors.
- Boscos del Vallès
The Innovative Project 'Boscos del Vallès'was shared by Carles rodriguez, Councilor for Territory and Ecological Transition of the Vallès Occidental Regional Council.
The Project aims to use local biomass for district heating and forest fire prevention. This project provides an integrated approach to forest fire prevention within the framework of the local bioeconomy. It is based on the structuring of the biomass buying and selling market with the aim of achieving good forest management that allows the forests to be protected from forest fires while entailing an economic revitalization of the forest sector and the generation of local energy.
- Roots: Resin production and forest fire prevention
The Portuguese António Salgueiro from the 'Agency for Integrated Rural Fire Management' explained what the 'Raízes' Project consisted of.
'Raízes' proposes an integrated approach to forest management and production through the conservation of forest heritage and a traditional economic activity that allows reducing the risk of forest fires and promoting rural development.
Among other services, the company plans and executes the prescribed burns and organizes specialized technical training actions according to the needs of its clients. The extraction of resin in the pine forest stands is currently one of its main activities.
Within this same area of 'Passive Prevention', different synergistic practices of mosaic landscape and forest fire risk mitigation were presented.
- One of them the Project of 'Foc Ramats' (Herds of Fire)
This Project is led by the Pau Costa Foundation, and its coordinator is Guillem Canaleta, technician of the area of resilient landscapes of the FPC.
Herds of Fire brings together all public and private agents interested in the continuity of grazing making their needs converge, articulating a chain of production and consumption of food from the participating herds that provide added value to prevent fires in strategic forest areas (defined by firefighters and / or forestry engineers of the Department of Agriculture).
- Life Granatha: GRowing AviaN in Apennine's Tuscany HeathlAnds
Davide ascoli presented the European project, 'Life Granatha', which consists of promoting the value chain of the production and commercialization of organic / biological brooms from Ericaceae through the use of plant debris from forest fire prevention areas.
In addition, the prescribed burning interventions are integrated into the Tuscany Region fire training program. The project aims to sensitize the general public about the role of nature conservation in fire management and the conservation of agricultural landscapes.
The presentations led to an interesting discussion among the participants and speakers about the potential and opportunities to strengthen the links between landscape management and fire prevention.
- The workshop showed the important contribution of the PREVAIL project in positioning agroforestry and livestock activities as nature-based solutions within the framework of disaster reduction strategies and civil protection against forest fires.
- In this sense, among other challenges, the need to improve access to available funds was raised by rewarding the preventive function of agricultural activity.
- The different initiatives showed the exciting human and socio-environmental dimension that cultural landscapes entail, and how they bring us various benefits to society, both rural and urban.
- They also teach the diversity and power of bottom-up fire prevention initiatives, and the importance of local governance and cooperation between actors with common goals.
- And finally, as resilient landscapes contribute to the conservation of nature, promote the bioeconomy and sustainable development and generate protection against natural risks.
Links of interest:
Eduard Plana, Marta Serra, Anna Barbati, Mario Colonico, Antonio Tomao, Conceiçao Colaço, Vanda Acácio, Ana Catarina Sequeira, Jose V. Moris, Davide Ascoli. 2020. Smart solutions for forest fire prevention. Fire and Natural Hazards. 1: 69-71. Read.