forest fire in Sweden

“HELP! Our forests are burning!” – “But what kind of help do you need?”

The heatwave across central and northern Europe is preparing the ground for a severe wildfire season. Normally mostly green vegetation is turning into “fuel” in countries normally not affected by serious fire problems. Hereby I am referring to countries not prepared for a wildfire season (compared to the Mediterranean areas, who are dealing with frequent forest fires), despite the climate change scenarios and increasing risks and disturbance predictions.

We have reported here on this blog about the fire situation and early warning systems in the UK, Ireland, and Germany already. Now Scandinavia is receiving a lot of media attention. Sweden for instance is calling for international assistance:

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help. Sweden worst hit as hot, dry summer sparks unusual number of fires, with at least 11 in the far north” (source: The Guardian) or

“Swedish firefighters were still battling 49 different wildfires across the country on Thursday afternoon, and in some areas residents have been asked to leave for their safety. Here’s where evacuations have taken place.” (source: The Local)

 

As we can see from this and most other media articles, reports focus on the weather, the heat and fires and smoke and on helicopters as well as water-bombing aircraft. And that is what you need in a out-of-control fire situation: Hit the fire fast and hard. And for that you need resources like planes, absolutely.

However, what I do miss in most news articles is the fact that the crisis management cycle has more phases than just the response. Is that single focused reporting maybe a reason for the political ignorance of urgent needs for prevention and mitigation?

Wildfeuer auf kontaminierten Flächen

Hier ein Update zu einem erneuten Brand auf ehemaligem Militärgelände (Quelle: Spiegel online) und meine Kommentare dazu.

In Deutschland, vor allem im Osten, gibt es tausende Hektar aktive oder ehemalige Truppenübungsplätze. Naturschutzfachlich sind diese Flächen auf Grund der ehemaligen militärischen Störung äußerst wertvoll und zumeist auch NATURA 2000- Flächen. Leider sind die militärischen Hinterlassenschaften (UXO Unexploded Ordnace) nicht so wertvoll, sondern gefährden Umwelt, Boden, Grundwasser und im Falle von Wildfeuern auch die Einsatzkräfte.

Zwei Fragen stellen sich: Wie können wir den Offenland-Charackter dieser Natura 2000 Flächen erhalten und gleichzeitig die Sicherheit der Einsatzkräfte im Brandfall erhöhen?

Bark beetle outbreaks and the future of European forests

Discussing solutions and searching for more resilience forests

How are different European countries dealing with bark beetle outbreaks and which role do questions like sanitary cutting, monitoring systems, forest ownership, windstorms and expectations towards nature conservation play? What are the challenges regarding climate change? How do the social perception of active and inactive forest management impact forester’s activities in local forests? Which tools should be used to cope with natural disturbances and how we can educate foresters, policy makers, and other relevant stakeholders? Following the invitation of the Polish Ministry of Environment and the Polish State Forests, we discussed these and more issues in the Białowieża Forest during a working seminar of the European Network INTEGRATE from 25-27 June 2018.

Unusual Record: UK burnt area largest in Europe – so far

Thanks to the careful observation of colleagues at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) we are able to report an unusual “record”: As of 11 June 2018, the largest burnt forest area in this year so far in Europe can be found in the United Kingdom. We are looking at 8049 ha of burnt area  that is more than the combined burnt area of Spain, Portugal, France and Italy together.

Can forests be legal entities?

It seems obvious to most of us that specific species, animals, and plants, are protected by special laws and regulations. However, it is getting less natural when we talk about rivers, forests or trees as legal entities. Or maybe rather opposite?

The Guardian has recently published an article “It’s only natural: the push to give rivers, mountains, and forests legal rights” where author Jane Gleeson-White describes a recent tendency in the Western environmental legal system. “This new approach to environmental law was introduced in the US by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, whose first success came in 2006”, writes Gleeson-White. The discussion about legal rights for the environment and its elements, during last ten years, has exceeded debates within environmental philosophy and anthropology and happened to be a focal point of many social movements.