Tackling wildfires in Mediterranean forests

Catastrophic forest fires claimed lives this summer across the world, from California to Portugal and Spain. The Mediterranean basin is a global wildfire hotspot and the threat of wildfires to forests and society is expected to increase with climate change.

Scientists from the European Forest Institute (EFI) urge a shift in focus on how we tackle this problem, moving beyond the current emphasis on fire suppression. They argue that the bio-economy offers means to activate management and to demonstrate that forests are a valuable resource, as a smart and sustainable strategy to address the problem of wildfires.

In a new paper published in Forest Policy and Economics, the researchers consider the opportunities offered by a forest-based bio-economy alongside an improved recognition of the value of forests. They suggest a strategic policy shift in favour of fire prevention as part of an integrated forest management strategy, while calling for a shift in mind-set for society to recognise the various ways in which forests provide value.

A comprehensive guide to risk and crisis management

For those, who are interested in practical approaches to risk and crisis management – check out these publications (in German):

The Swiss federal institute for forest, snow and landscape (WSL) is providing a comprehensive collection of its publications, which provides information on risk and crisis management in forestry – Merkblatt für die Praxis. The papers are condensed versions of the institute’s research findings and translated into sets of practical guidelines. They are of interest to practitioners, to forest and environmental delegates as well as to lay persons.

Marteloscope sites: news on EFI’s outdoor forest classroom activities

Marteloscope sites are like outdoor forest classrooms where the trees are numbered, mapped and measured. They can be used to train foresters and other interest groups how different silvicultural measures may affect forest biodiversity and to what extent. Software running on mobile devices allows virtual tree selection exercises and then displays the results. Participants can immediately see the ecological and economic consequences of their choices. Variations in exercise results initiate discussion and stimulate the exchange of experiences and learning.

Andreas Schuck from the EFI Bonn team is conducting training exercises with different stakeholders from the field of forestry, nature conservation, and academia. The latest training took place at the Falkenberg Marteloscope on 16th of October. It is located in the northern Vosges region of France. Twelve participants representing both forestry and nature conservation were introduced to Marteloscopes and their potential applications followed by a virtual tree selection exercise. The exercise asked for selecting habitat trees while removing high quality trees for economic return. Andreas Schuck and Frank Krumm from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) moderated the training jointly with Loïc Duchamp from the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord, France (PNRVN). The same virtual tree selection exercise was implemented by groups of two followed by a brief presentation of results and joint discussion. Habitat and economic valuable trees were then looked at more closely in order to challenge the groups on their decisions.