Deadly wildfires in the past two years and the heatwave we are facing throughout in Europe this year are a glimpse of what to expect in the future. Therefore, the European Union has granted 4 million Euro for PyroLife, a project in which framework a new generation of experts will be trained in integrated fire management. We are happy to announce that we will take part in the newly established project.
PyroLife is the first integrated doctoral training programme on wildfires globally and will train 15 PhD candidates across Europe, coordinated by Wageningen University & Research.
Within this project, the European Forest Institute will supervise one PhD student and further offers various fire related trainings through the SURE project.
The 2018 fire season and the first seven months of 2019 has shown, that not only Southern European countries are hit by forest fires, but also in countries where those were traditionally not frequent, we experience an increasing number of wildfires. Europe is yet lacking a common strategy how to handle this scenario and a strategy that guarantees the best preparation possible for the regional and national level. “After the killer fires in Portugal, Greece and California and “difficult-to-manage” fires in Germany for instance, we need a new paradigm of fire risk, a new fire culture, a common understanding; I.e. focusing much more on prevention and the understanding that we as a society have to learn to “live with fire”. The EU-project PyroLife will train this new generation of experts in integrated fire management” says Alexander Held, forest fire expert at EFI. The PyroLife approach brings together knowledge not only from different countries, but also from different scientific fields. Therefore, southern European expertise in fire management will help to better understand the development of vegetation fires in northern Europe, whereas northern countries will contribute with their lesson learnt from floods risk management for instance or adapted silviculture methods to even addressing the perception and believes that people have when it comes to managing fire risk.
PyroLife: 4 million euro for innovative training network on integrated fire management
2017 and 2018 were a glimpse of the future: deadly mega-fires in the Mediterranean and numerous wildfires in temperate and boreal regions. Climate change will increase fire risk not only in Southern Europe but also in countries where vegetation fires were traditionally sparse. Firefighting is insufficient to tackle this challenge and there is a critical need to move from resisting fire to living with fire. Addressing the wildfire challenges that Europe currently faces requires a new approach to train fire experts.
The newly funded EU project PyroLife will therefore be training a new generation of interdisciplinary experts in integrated fire management. Key to the project is transfer of knowledge and strengths between countries, scientific disciplines, and between science and practice. It combines how the North solves community problems with the fire knowledge of the European South: it will use Southern European leadership in fire expertise to understand and predict fire risk, fire behavior and impacts in Northwest Europe. Likewise, the project will apply NW European lessons learned in prevention of floods and other risks. PyroLife coordinator dr. Cathelijne Stoof: “the Dutch are world famous for the way we live with water. By working with water management experts and landscape designers, we will use this knowledge on planning, management and communication to study how to design resilient landscapes and communities to live with fire.”
PyroLife provides 15 PhD candidates with the in-depth, interdisciplinary, integrated and transferable knowledge and skills required to complete their research and maximize future employability. The project structures doctoral training by being the first large and integrated doctoral training program on wildfires globally. PyroLife combines excellent research and supervision to make an impact on society and economy, through broad dissemination and communication.
Marie-Curie Action and a highly diverse consortium
PyroLife is an Innovative Training Network funded by the prestigious Marie-Curie Action within the Horizon2020 programme. This funding scheme is highly competitive, with only 128 out of 1,565 submitted proposals being funded (8%). Wageningen University (The Netherlands) is leading the consortium that will hire 15 PhD candidates at 10 leading European universities and institutes. These PhD candidates will obtain training at a total of 21 international partners that include governments, fire services, business and non-profit agencies.
An overview of the full consortium is given below:
- The Netherlands: Wageningen University & Research
- United Kingdom: University of Birmingham, Imperial College, Forestry Commission England, WildfireTacAd, ARUP
- Germany: European Forest Institute
- Spain: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Tecnosylva, Pau Costa Foundation
- Cyprus: European University Cyprus
- Portugal: Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Águas de Portugal
- France: IRSTEA (Institut National de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l’Environnement et l’Agriculture)
- Denmark: Fredriksborg Fire and Rescue Service
- Poland: Instytut Techniki Budowlanej (Building Research Institute)
- Greece: Hellenic Agricultural Organization “Demeter”
- International: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation
- USA: National Fire Protection Association
- Canada: University of Alberta
- New Zealand: New Zealand Forest Research Institute
Photo Credit: Art (RUS) Potosi @ Flickr