Living with Wildfires: What Science Can Tell Us - A Contribution to the Science-Policy Dialogue. Birot, Y.; Borgniet, L.; Camia, A.; Dupuy, J.; Fernandes, P.; Goldammer, J. G.; Gonzalez-Olabarria, J. R.; Jappiot, M.; Lampin-Maillet, C.; Mavsar, R.; Montiel-Molina, C.; Moreira, F.; Moreno, J. M.; Rego, F.; Rigolot, E.; San-Miguel-Ayanz, J.; Vallejo, R.; and Velez, R. Volume 15 of Discussion Paper, European Forest Institute.
Living with Wildfires: What Science Can Tell Us - A Contribution to the Science-Policy Dialogue [link]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
[Excerpt: Introduction] Contrary to other natural hazards such as earthquakes or windstorms, wildfires are certainly among the most predictable ones. Therefore, it is a phenomenon which, in principle, should leave modern societies some degrees of freedom and margins of manoeuvre for implementing efficient counteracting strategies. However, this opportunity has not been properly used. Over the last decades, wildfires have proven to be a subject of growing concern for the Mediterranean Region. Woodlands, rangelands, maquis and garrigues in rural areas or at the interface with urban areas still continue to burn with significant environmental, social and economic impacts, in particular in case of increased frequencies of fires. Although the European statistics show that in average policies and measures related to fire prevention and suppression have been efficient, extreme climatic conditions (in 2003 in western Europe, and in 2007 in eastern Europe) result in catastrophic fires, such as those undergone by Portugal and Greece. The impacts of such disasters are tremendous, also at the political level. Although the occurrence of severe wildfires has been affecting mainly the northern rim of the Mediterranean Basin, some significant changes in climate and land use are already taking place and will most likely result in an expansion of fire threatened areas. For example, Syria, Lebanon and Algeria have recently been exposed to catastrophic wildfires. In a near future, new areas in the north will face a shift to Mediterranean-like ecological conditions, which raises the question of how to anticipate these evolutions. [] As any risk, wildfires cannot and should not be eradicated, and anyhow, managing fire risk through prevention and suppression has a cost. Therefore, in the context of finite financial resources and increased areas subject to fire, the appropriate response cannot be just to continue business as usual, as it will require a dramatic increase in the means and equipments allocated to fire management. The issue at stake is rather to set up integrated strategies and policies that provide ” reasonable” trade-offs between environmental, social and economic elements, and allow us to live with wildfire risk. This new approach definitely calls for a profound rethink of these strategies and policies at national and European level, by tackling the problem in all dimensions, including a clear identification of civil protection and forest protection objectives, as they have been in the past quite often mixed up. There is a need for moving from short term driven policy of fire control, mainly based on huge technological investments, to a longer term policy of removing the structural causes of wildfires. [] Science's traditional mission has been - and still is - to advance knowledge as a support to innovation. Today, the mission is also to provide expertise in the policy making processes. The science community feels that it can and should contribute to feed the debate on wildfire by providing research results and ideas as background material for future options in strategies and policies. Wildfire related research has been very active in Europe over the last two decades, in particular thanks to a number of EU funded projects (Framework Programmes for RTD), so that a structured research community and new expertise and competence have emerged. Time has come to make this knowledge more digestible and available to policy and decision makers, and beyond to the whole society. This is the ambition of the current paper. [] The document is not a state of the art report covering, in an exhaustive manner, all issues related to wildfires. It focuses rather on a limited number of selected key topics on which scientists have some messages to deliver, and which should be considered in future policy making processes. The overall objective of this discussion paper is to provide understanding for managing. [] This discussion paper is divided in four sections. The first one presents some statistical figures on wildfire and underlines the trends. The second section deals with two basic questions which should form the background of any rational strategy: why and how do woodlands burn? what is the resulting impact? Practices and strategies for acting on fire risk, including the economic and policy dimensions, are presented in the third section. In the last part, the emphasis is put on the challenges linked to increased and new wildfire risks related to climate change, and ways to cope with them. [] [...]
@book{birotLivingWildfiresWhat2009,
  title = {Living with Wildfires: What Science Can Tell Us - {{A}} Contribution to the Science-Policy Dialogue},
  author = {Birot, Yves and Borgniet, Laurent and Camia, Andrea and Dupuy, Jean-Luc and Fernandes, Paulo and Goldammer, Johann G. and Gonzalez-Olabarria, José R. and Jappiot, Mireille and Lampin-Maillet, Corinne and Mavsar, Robert and Montiel-Molina, Cristina and Moreira, Francisco and Moreno, José M. and Rego, Francisco and Rigolot, Eric and San-Miguel-Ayanz, Jesus and Vallejo, Ramon and Velez, Ricardo},
  editor = {Birot, Yves},
  date = {2009},
  volume = {15},
  publisher = {{European Forest Institute}},
  location = {{Joensuu, Finland}},
  url = {http://mfkp.org/INRMM/article/14256110},
  abstract = {[Excerpt: Introduction] Contrary to other natural hazards such as earthquakes or windstorms, wildfires are certainly among the most predictable ones. Therefore, it is a phenomenon which, in principle, should leave modern societies some degrees of freedom and margins of manoeuvre for implementing efficient counteracting strategies. However, this opportunity has not been properly used. Over the last decades, wildfires have proven to be a subject of growing concern for the Mediterranean Region. Woodlands, rangelands, maquis and garrigues in rural areas or at the interface with urban areas still continue to burn with significant environmental, social and economic impacts, in particular in case of increased frequencies of fires. Although the European statistics show that in average policies and measures related to fire prevention and suppression have been efficient, extreme climatic conditions (in 2003 in western Europe, and in 2007 in eastern Europe) result in catastrophic fires, such as those undergone by Portugal and Greece. The impacts of such disasters are tremendous, also at the political level. Although the occurrence of severe wildfires has been affecting mainly the northern rim of the Mediterranean Basin, some significant changes in climate and land use are already taking place and will most likely result in an expansion of fire threatened areas. For example, Syria, Lebanon and Algeria have recently been exposed to catastrophic wildfires. In a near future, new areas in the north will face a shift to Mediterranean-like ecological conditions, which raises the question of how to anticipate these evolutions.

[] As any risk, wildfires cannot and should not be eradicated, and anyhow, managing fire risk through prevention and suppression has a cost. Therefore, in the context of finite financial resources and increased areas subject to fire, the appropriate response cannot be just to continue business as usual, as it will require a dramatic increase in the means and equipments allocated to fire management. The issue at stake is rather to set up integrated strategies and policies that provide ” reasonable” trade-offs between environmental, social and economic elements, and allow us to live with wildfire risk. This new approach definitely calls for a profound rethink of these strategies and policies at national and European level, by tackling the problem in all dimensions, including a clear identification of civil protection and forest protection objectives, as they have been in the past quite often mixed up. There is a need for moving from short term driven policy of fire control, mainly based on huge technological investments, to a longer term policy of removing the structural causes of wildfires.

[] Science's traditional mission has been - and still is - to advance knowledge as a support to innovation. Today, the mission is also to provide expertise in the policy making processes. The science community feels that it can and should contribute to feed the debate on wildfire by providing research results and ideas as background material for future options in strategies and policies. Wildfire related research has been very active in Europe over the last two decades, in particular thanks to a number of EU funded projects (Framework Programmes for RTD), so that a structured research community and new expertise and competence have emerged. Time has come to make this knowledge more digestible and available to policy and decision makers, and beyond to the whole society. This is the ambition of the current paper.

[] The document is not a state of the art report covering, in an exhaustive manner, all issues related to wildfires. It focuses rather on a limited number of selected key topics on which scientists have some messages to deliver, and which should be considered in future policy making processes. The overall objective of this discussion paper is to provide understanding for managing.

[] This discussion paper is divided in four sections. The first one presents some statistical figures on wildfire and underlines the trends. The second section deals with two basic questions which should form the background of any rational strategy: why and how do woodlands burn? what is the resulting impact? Practices and strategies for acting on fire risk, including the economic and policy dimensions, are presented in the third section. In the last part, the emphasis is put on the challenges linked to increased and new wildfire risks related to climate change, and ways to cope with them.

[] [...]},
  isbn = {978-952-5453-30-0},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-14256110,climate-change,economic-impacts,natural-hazards,science-policy-interface,wildfires},
  pagetotal = {86},
  series = {Discussion {{Paper}}}
}
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