Towards a consensus on the management of great wildfires

The statement will be presented publicly in June 2023.

The Pau Costa Foundation has promoted a process of reflection and debate to reach a common position of the Community of Forest Fires at the Spanish level. The Board of Trustees, the Advisory Council and the Executive Team of the Foundation identified more than ninety members of the Forest Fire Community to participate in this space for debate with the aim of reaching a consensus position. to this end, a “Forum for debate and proposals for action for the management of large forest fires in Spain” was set up, and met in Madrid on March 29 and 30, with the participation of 60 members, including experts from the academic and research fields, the administration, practicioners, private companies, national parks, forest managers and engineers and environmental organizations, among others.

During the two days of the Forum, different interdisciplinary teams worked on seven basic axes (management of forest ecosystems; land planning; living rural communities; uses and ecology of fire; communication, education and awareness; knowledge and needs in suppression; and future scenarios in the medium and long term) and two transversal axes (governance policies and nature conservation). Based on these axes, challenges and objectives were identified that should serve as the basis for the drafting of the common declaration.

After agreeing on the common declaration among the participants, a period of search for adhesions to the document will be opened. During the month of June, a public presentation of the document will be organized to make it known to society and then raise it to a national and European political level.

The search for consensus on the management of great forest fires in Spain is a necessary and essential commitment to jointly advance towards an efficient prevention and management of wildfires. This, contemplates the construction of a less vulnerable natural and human landscape and the protection of the cultural and natural values of our ecosystems. The fires of the summer of 2022 confirmed what the forest fire community had been warning about: the fires of the future (already in the present) are more intense and with unprecedented ecological and social consequences. Examples of this are the fires that occurred in 2022 in Spain – Sierra de la Culebra (Zamora), the wave of fires in Navarra, or those of Bejís, Vall d’Ebo and Sierra Calderona in the Valencian Community -, but we can look for examples in previous years and in other countries that had already been warning of this change in trend – Australia (2009 and 2019), Portugal and Chile (2017) or Spain (2012).

The resulting common position and a roadmap with impact actions, should guide action against great wildfires based on experience, rigor, and decision-making based on the facts and data provided by science, from a multidisciplinary vision.

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