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Category: Forest Risks

Bushfires, Wildfires and Damaging fires – Rinse and Repeat or Risk Reduction and Resilience?

Dr. Peter F. Moore, Forestry Officer, Forest Fire Management & Disaster Risk Reduction, in the FAO-Forestry Department originates from Australia and posted the following statement in response to the ongoing wildfire crisis:

“In January 1994 there were four fire related deaths, hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt and fingers of fire crept into the city of Sydney.

  • Parliament, the cabinet and the coroner held inquiries and released reports on the reasons, causes of death and the possible means of avoiding the same problems in the future.

On Christmas Day 2001, the concerns of fire authorities in New South Wales were realised – in full measure. The lead-up to summer conditions had been drier than normal. December 25, 2001 was hot with temperatures well over 30C; very low humidity of less than 15 per cent; and winds from the west. These bush fires burnt nearly 700,000ha, with 115 houses and many other buildings destroyed and scores of others damaged.

  • And Parliament and the coroner held inquiries and released reports on the reasons and the causes …
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The potential of recovering degraded pine forests

by Alessandra Lagomarsino

Did you know that worldwide forests each year absorb 30% of the CO2 emitted globally by fossil fuels and are huge carbon sinks, thus contributing to climate change mitigation and storing carbon in different pools (i.e., biomass, soil, dead organic matter, or litter)? However, when a forest is degraded with many dead, fallen and damaged trees, it does not remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate the emissions due to the decomposition of dead trees and soil organic matter.

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Networks of trust – the foundation for wildfire management

Written by Laura Nikinmaa & Maria Schlossmacher

Imagine having a team of chefs cooking Eggs Benedict. One of them has only ever made omelets; the other one has all the ingredients but no recipe. The third one knows how to do it, but they have been forbidden to cook anything else than scrambled eggs by the owner of the restaurant. On top of everything, they are not talking to one another because they are all competing for promotion. The outcome? You guessed it, anything but Eggs Benedict, the restaurant owner is enraged, and none of the chefs gets a promotion.

While the restaurant world is known to be fiery, the actual world of wildfires is straight up in flames. We have seen abnormally active fire season in 2019 in many countries. Poland had almost three times more fires compared to the 10-year average this year, Germany more than five times more, and France more than seven times more (EFFIS). The cherry on top was the United Kingdom, which had eight times more fires in 2019 than in the 10-year average. It was therefore fitting that the SURE project workshop (“pro-active fire management”) was organized back to back with the England and Wales Wildfire Forum’s (EWWF) Wildfire Conference from 20th to 22nd of November in Cardiff, Wales. The EWWF conference had more than 180 participants from 14 different countries, out of which almost 50 stayed to participate in the SURE workshop on the 22nd. The theme of the conference was “Manage the fuel – Reduce the Risk”. The speakers consisted of experts from practice and research, from fire and rescue services to forest administrates, and the topics varied from practical examples to the latest knowledge we have on wildfire behavior.

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Bitten by the same bug – German spruce in jeopardy

“Scientists alarmed by bark beetle boom” (ScienceDaily, 2019), “French forests scarred as heatwaves bring bark beetle infestation” (Euronews, 2019a), “Czech forest owners face $1.7 billion loss this year from bark beetle crisis” (Euronews, 2019b) and finally “Merkel promises €500m to revitalise German forests” (Guardian, 2019) – these were only some of the many forest-related headlines in European news in the past months.

It is obvious: How weather affects our forests, would not have made it to the news ten years ago – but following the unprecedented hot temperatures, long dry spells as well as severe storm events in Central Europe, everybody was talking about the state of our forests. These extreme weather events are a not only a huge burden for human health but also for entire natural ecosystems. In Germany, extreme temperatures contributed to the extremely dire state of about 180,000 ha of forested area and taxpayer support of 800 million Euros for reforestation measures (FAZ, 2019). In the past, evolution gave flora and fauna the opportunity to adapt to changing environmental conditions and climates but the pace and scale of climatic changes that we experience today, give our natural world a mountain to climb, regardless of the money thrown at the problem.

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Integrating nature protection into forest management the Danish way

Did you know that Denmark has a relatively low forest cover of 14 percent, but nonetheless has great ambitions regarding the ecosystem services they wish those forests to provide? All the more reason to understand more about how they integrate different forest functions into forest management.

I had the chance to find out more about Danish sustainable forest management – or Close-to-Nature Silviculture, as the Danes would call their particular brand – when I participated in the most recent meeting of the European Network INTEGRATE , which is currently chaired by the Danish Nature Agency.

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EFI Bonn looking for a PhD Researcher on Perceptions of Wildfire Risks

The European Forest Institute (EFI) is now looking for a PhD Researcher on understanding perceptions of wildfire risks and related land management at its Bonn, Germany, office.

Deadline for the application is 16 December 2019 COB.

The objectives of the research are:
• To analyse perceptions of fire risk and related concepts of fire (risk) management in different regional and sectoral contexts across Europe amongst a) fire and land management experts, b) land owners and managers in different regional settings;
• To enhance learning and generate transferable knowledge on risk and its management through interconnecting experts across regional contexts.

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Helping journalists report on complex science

On 11-12 July 2019, nine journalists from six media teams visited the Białowieża Forest to attend the ‘Sound Co-Lab Reporting’ – a workshop introducing audio storytelling techniques to report on forest-related issues. The workshop was part of the Lookout Station which aims to bridge the gap between science and media and bring innovation to newsrooms. The event was organized in collaboration with EUFORGEN to bring forest genetics onto the map of interconnected issues needed to decipher today’s complex problems.

Białowieża Forest, a UNESCO-protected site on the border between Poland and Belarus, is known worldwide for its high conservation value and for a history of controversy over conservation and forest management.

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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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Resilience: what tree rings can say

A single definition of forest resilience is yet to be found, so we decided to establish a series of interviews introducing scientists who deal with this term every day. Meet Ute Sass-Klaassen from Wageningen University. Her research focuses on tree growth in relation to environmental factors. Droughts, flooding, heat waves, fires, and frost events play an important role for productivity and survival of trees and may cause severe disturbances in forest ecosystem services. Knowledge about forest growth and mortality provides valuable information for understanding how surviving trees have reacted to these disturbances and determining basic parameters of a functioning forest ecosystem.

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When school becomes holiday – Exploring forest resilience from all the angles

It’s funny how one starts to miss the things they previously would have been glad to give up. In my case, I realized I have missed sitting in lecture rooms. That is why I was so eager to participate the summer school “Forest Resilience” organized by the SwissForestLab, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and NFZ.forestnet. The school took place in Davos, Switzerland from 18th to 24th of August. There were 20 students from 10 different countries and diverse backgrounds.

Resilience is a complex, multiscalar and interdisciplinary issue. It touches topics from tree growth to disturbance regimes, from human behaviour to economics and insurances. The summer school had made considerable effort to fit these different perspectives into a packed but mind-grabbing programme. We started with lectures on the social and economic aspects of resilience. As many of us had more natural sciences background, there was a lot of new information to chew on.

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