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Category: fire

Disaster Risk Management via app?

The European Commission’s Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre and the Directorate General for Research and Innovation have developed a platform, Gaps Explorer, that collects pre-analysed information on recent and ongoing Disaster Risk Management (DRM) projects and provides recommendations for actions to three groups: practitioners, policy makers and scientists.

The first pilot was developed on Forest Fires. This is a major hazard throughout Europe, producing large environmental and economic losses and having an impact on human lives. Effective forest fire management and decision-making requires science-based information. The analysis of the knowledge, methodologies and technologies produced in the last two decades opens up new perspectives for enhanced forest fire risk management in the face of climate change, social and cultural trends and growth dynamics.

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Der tote Taucher im Wald – Gedanken zur Feuerbekämpfung aus der Luft

Vielleicht erinnert sich noch der ein oder andere an den Tatort „Der tote Taucher im Wald“. Ein Löschflugzeug schöpft Wasser, ein Taucher landet in einem Waldbrand…Die gegenwärtige Diskussion über Löschflugzeuge in Deutschland erinnerte mich jedenfalls daran.

Während wir schon jetzt bis August 2019 teilweise überraschende Ausmaße der Waldbrände feststellen müssen, wird kontrovers über den Umgang mit Feuer und den möglichen Löschmöglichkeiten diskutiert. Auch wir haben uns zum Thema integriertes Feuermanagement hier auf diesem Blog hinreichend geäußert und wollen nun auch zur Diskussion über Löschflugzeuge beitragen, im Folgenden ein paar Gedanken.

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EFI as chartered member of PyroLife

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.

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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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rescEU put into practice!…partially.

The current heat wave does not only create a feeling of summer holidays but above all, it puts fire and rescue services as well as foresters on constant alert.

At the same time, the rescEU plan is getting into its next phase, which is good news. RescEU is the common European response to disasters by strengthening the EU’s collective ability to react.

Especially in consideration of the high risks of forest fires, the Commission has launched the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU systems, consisting of two aircraft from Croatia, one aircraft from France, two aircraft from Italy, two aircrafts from Spain, and six helicopters from Sweden. The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides stated: “With rescEU, we have put words into action. We have delivered a practical tool for citizens that can save thousands of lives in the future. RescEU means having a much stronger, pan-European civil protection system.”

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Springtime in flames

and Alexander Held

What had already been predicted in 2018, became true.

Spring is too warm and too dry, again. The year 2019 had a hot start: during the first four months, more areas have been burned than during the entire 2018 across Europe. The Joint Research Centre’s European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) of the EU Science Hub recorded 1233 fires corresponding to a burned area of more than 250 000 ha by the end of April. In comparison, there were 1192 fires burning 181 000 ha during the whole 2018.

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Extreme Trockenheit führt zu hoher Waldbrandgefahr

Von Alexander Held & Maria Schloßmacher

Aufgrund akuter Waldbrandgefahr herrscht in vielen Regionen Deutschlands und darüber hinaus derzeit die höchste Warnstufe. Bereits vor Ostern musste die Feuerwehr zahlreiche Waldbrände löschen.

Der Waldbrandgefahren-Index des Deutschen Wetterdienstes (DWD) stuft vor allem Brandenburg, den Süden Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns, das nördliche Sachsen und den Osten Sachsen-Anhalts als stark gefährdet ein. Im nördlichen Sachsen dürfen wegen der hohen Brandgefahr einige Wälder nicht von der Öffentlichkeit betreten werden.

Gründe für den Ausbruch des Feuers sind vielfältig und doch leicht auszumachen. Die Kombination aus dem Rekordsommer 2018 und die anhaltende Trockenheit haben den Wäldern zugesetzt, sodass die letzten (Wasser)-Reserven aufgebraucht sind. Sollten sich die Prognosen über ein weiteres Dürrejahr 2019 bestätigen, werden auch die Zahlen der Waldbrände weiter drastisch steigen. Trockene Pflanzenreste und der Wind tragen zum Ausbruch des Feuers bei. Der Wind trocknet altes Gras, noch bevor das neue Grün wachsen kann und begünstigen so die schnelle Ausbreitung des Feuers. Da die Bäume erst langsam beginnen ihre Blätter zu bilden, kann die Sonne ohne Schutz bis auf den Waldboden scheinen und trockenen Pflanzenteile sind leichter entflammbar. Dadurch ist die Waldbrandgefahr im Frühling besonders hoch einzuschätzen.  Wind und Trockenheit, mehr noch als die Temperatur und die warmen Tage über dem Osterwochenende, spielen dabei eine entscheidende Rolle.

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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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A Call from the US for the European Forest Risk Facility?

I was in Barcelona on Monday 11 February to participate in the EFIMED event Facing Forest Fires with EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides. The Commissioner explained his rescEU plan aiming at improving the European system to tackle natural disasters in more detail. Immediately, my earlier thoughts on this plan came back to mind: I still think rescEU might have the wrong focus, and we should allocate resources towards wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression.

Stylianides’ speech was followed by four contributions from science, practice and also the policy level. They all had a clear message, that coincides with our European Forest Risk Facility‘s vision (resilient landscapes – adapted communities – adequate response): Instead of more fire fighting aircraft (which is part of rescEU) emphasize must be given to landscape- and forest management, i.e. managing the fuel load, fuel availability, and fuel characteristics to enable safe and effective fire management. Often, this fuel management is addressed through the use of prescribed fire, especially in the Mediterranean.

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