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Polish-German exchange on wildfire prevention

Written by Michael Herrmann, ForestFireWatch and Alexander Held

„One firefighter within the first 15 minutes is worth more in the forest than 100 firefighters after an hour” – motto of Polish forest fire protection services, emphasizing the importance of initial attack

From 6-7 June 2019, Polish forest officers from the State Forests organization, firefighter and representatives of the Forest Research Institute met with members of the German volunteer organization “ForestFireWatch” for an exchange of knowledge and experience in Rzepin (Forest District), Poland. Main objective of the meeting was the exchange of experience in the field of wildfire prevention.

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Fire management in Viking style – looking for solutions together

The North is getting hot! Last year with its uncommonly warm and dry spring and summer caused lot of problems to the forest and agricultural sector in the Nordic countries. In addition, Sweden suffered from extensive wildfires. Due to climate change, summers like 2018 might become the new normal. To address this, the Nordic Council of Ministers launched a project group  that is a collaboration between Nordic Agri Research (NKJ) and Nordic Forest Research (SNS). SNS held a workshop “Nordic forestry in times of extreme weather” in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the 1st of March to discuss amongst the participants from the ministries and fire service, how Nordic collaboration could be strengthened to face the new challenges. Laura Nikinmaa from the European Forest Institute’s Resilience Programme was invited to be a guest speaker together with Marc Castellnou from the Pau Costa Foundation and Martin Vendelbo from the Danish Emergency Management Agency.

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Sparking firesmart policies in the EU – let's train together!

The European Commission recently published a report entitled: Forest Fires, Sparking firesmart policies in the EU.

Forest fires constitute a serious and increasing threat throughout Europe, particularly in Greece, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Currently we are also observing more and more fires in the temperate zone of Central Europe. Despite a decreasing trend in the number of fires and areas burned, observed in some countries since the 1980s, larger and more damaging fires (i.e. ‘megafires’) are challenging the suppression capacities of many wildfire protection programmes across Europe.

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The fourth wave of feminism: women and fire

From Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf and Judith Butler to Malala Yousafzai – the so-called fourth wave of feminism has seen people mobilized through social media. Undoubtedly, many have recognized the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and assault.
This wave also comes with a claim for cultural products to portray women’s role in history. Long before there was Internet, women in the US were pursuing equal opportunities as they fought wildfires side by side with men in the 1910s. Your Natural Forest magazine recently published “Drawn to Flame: Women Forged by Wildfire”, an article on women who found their way into fighting wildfire.

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Siberian fire smoke: where does it go?

The European Union’s Observation Programme, Copernicus, and its Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) predicted that in July smoke from fires in the Sakha, far east of Russia, would travel an astonishing 9500 km – across the Arctic Ocean to Alaska, North-West Canada and the west coast of Greenland.
According to a recent press release, “CAMS Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS) estimates that between 2003 and 2017 Russian wildfires emitted on average about five mega tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per day. At the end of June this year, the fires suddenly increased in intensity, upping their carbon dioxide output to approximately 20 mega tonnes per day.” This is not new; Siberian summer season is no stranger to wildfires, but being able to predict the movement of the smoke can help to prevent effects of affected areas.

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"Close-to-nature" fire prevention

Targeted or tactical grazing for fire prevention is nothing new, but worthwhile to be highlighted again under the current wildfire situations across Europe.
Personally, I am a believer in large scale prescribed burning as an effective and nature friendly prevention tool. But I have to admit that the idea of producing steaks, chops and sausages through fuel load reduction grazing is also very appealing to me indeed! And it can be applied all year round! And as always, to manage fire we need a toolbox with many different tools! Prescribed burning is one, grazing another. The recent BBC report on “prescribed grazing” says it all.

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Fighting fire by the book

Euronews featured a comprehensive article with interviews from our European Forest Risk Facility experts, Alexander Held (EFI) and Marc Castellnou (Pau Costa Foundation) on how to tackle wildfires, aiming at summarizing the lessons learned of fighting wildfires.
Castellnou emphasizes that all the related research helps them predict how the fire will develop and make an effective use of resources. Held explains the three main factors to consider when assessing a fire: wind, terrain and the direction of the blaze. He then elaborates on dry firefighting tactics for preventing the fire to spread, such as digging channels along the flanks of the blaze and removing vegetation with prescribed burns.

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Fire News from European Media

Here we would like to provide you with recent updates:
Ireland
After responding to 50 wildfires over the past two weeks, Collite urged the public not to engage in “fire tourism” as forest and gorse fires continue to rage across the country amid hot, dry conditions. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/coillte-warns-public-against-fire-tourism-1.3556266
France
The president of a protection association overseeing a natural area near Villers-lès-Nancy lamented the destruction done to birds’ nesting grounds by an 8-hectare wildfire which roared through the area several days ago. https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/grand-est/meurthe-et-moselle/nancy/espace-naturel-sensible-incendie-villers-nancy-1507109.html

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