“We need wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression” – EFI-expert responds to EU’s new rescEU plan

The European summer of 2017 had unprecedented amounts of natural disasters happening simultaneously, such as devastating forest fires in Portugal, immense storms in Germany and Greece an the UK, often followed by severe floods. It is estimated that natural disasters cost EU member states about 360 Billion Euro over the past 40 years, while over 200 people lost their lives in fires, storms and floods in 2017 alone.

Threatened by increasing magnitudes of climate change and destabilized by a lack of resources and cross border coordination, the EU faced the fact that something has to change. To boost Europe’s ability to better deal with natural disasters, the European Commission yesterday launched rescEU, an initiative to improve the European system to tackle natural disasters. The intention is to strengthen European response capacities on the one hand, and (maybe) more importantly to improve cooperation and coherence of disaster prevention and preparedness among European countries on the other hand.

“From the perspective of the European Forest Risk Facility hosted by European Forest Institute we welcome the statement of the commissioner, indeed we support his statement for more cooperation and prevention, hand in hand with adequate response to disasters”, says European Forest Institute’s (EFI) own senior expert on Forest-, Fire-, and Wildlife management Alexander Held.  However, we might have the wrong focus, also reflected in media coverage (like the German ZEIT), which so far focuses on the first aspect: suppression and fire control. A misallocation of money and resources, arisen due to misinformed people with a wish for a political spectacle, according to Held. “Large wildfires only occur through a combination of three things: an ignition, severe fire weather and a large contiguous accumulation of fuel. Take away the factors mankind cannot control, and you are left dealing with the accumulation of fuel – thus preemptive fire management. Broad scale fuel reduction burning (or grazing, mulching, mowing, converting to productive, valuable forest) is the only defense we have against large wildfires”, so Held. “Fire control through water bombers has its place, but is – just like any other case of symptom combating –  ineffective when dealing with large wildfires.”

Make sure you do not miss out on Alexander Held’s full statement on rescEU, as he makes a comprehensive case for allocating resources towards wildfire prevention rather than fire suppression. The statement is based on the expertise of the forest fire manager Held and does not necessarily reflect EFI’s viewpoint as an organization.

 

Under the magnifying glass: Private sector commitment to climate protection

On 14th November 2017, in the context of the COP23, the Senate of the Economy together with the European Forest Institute and ForestFinest held a panel discussion on the private sector’s potential to contribute to climate protection. Prof. Dr. Dr. Franz-Josef Radermacher, president of the senate, gave an inspiring key-note speech on how to combat climate change and satisfy global needs at the same time and with that triggered a lively discussion with his fellow speakers. The speakers included EFI’s own Lukas Giessen, principal scientist on International Forest Governance, Anna Rösinger – director of We Forest and Dirk Walterspacher of ForestFinest Consulting. Dr. Christoph Brüssel, from the Senate of the Economy, moderated the discussion.

Kick-off Workshop of Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture (InForMAr)

The Kick-off workshop of the project Integrated Forest Management Learning Architecture (InForMAr) will take place on 7th and 8th of December 2017 in the new premises of European Forest Institute’s Bonn Office.

Altogether around 30 European policy stakeholders and scientists will meet to discuss goals of the InForMAr project. The participants’ task will be to look at relevant questions relating to the integration of nature conservation in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through integrated forest management approaches in Europe. This involves e.g. the discussion of forest functions, of socioeconomic driving factors and how they determine the work of practitioners as well as the question of how forest policy can better support the implementation of integrative forest management.
The workshop aim is to build a network of practitioners, scientists and European policy stakeholders interested in the issue of integrated forest management. The result of the discussions of the workshop will be used by the InForMAr researchers and will be examined for the next stage of the project.
The keynote speakers incude: Yoan Paillet (IRSTEA), Lena Gustafsson (SLU), Metodi Sotirov (University of Freiburg), Susanne Winter (WWF Deutschland), Peter Löffler (DG Environment), Eckart Senitza (Pro Silva Europe), Robert Flies (Luxembourg Private Forest Owners).
Keynote speeches will be followed by group discussions focusing on driving forces for integrated forest management. During the event the movie, “Wise use of our forests: the integrative approach” produced by InForMAr researcher Andreas Schuck will be screened.

The InForMAr Project is funded and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and follows the projects Integrate and Integrate+.

Fighting catastrophic forest fires: a new vision

In this short video, the European Forest Institute (EFI) looks at the key factors of increased forest fire risk in the Mediterranean region and advocates for a new vision based on shifting the focus from reactive fire suppression to long-term proactive fire prevention and forest management at the landscape scale.

European Forest Institute (EFI) launches Bonn Office and Resilience Research Programme

Leading European policy makers and scientists explored the future of Europe’s forests as European Forest Institute’s Bonn Office officially opened its doors. The inauguration festivities took place on the 29th of August in the Kunstmuseum Bonn auditorium.