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Mediterranean researchers at global conference to call for more communication over wildland fires

Wed, 4th May '11

 

Lanyards for Wildfire 2011

Strategies to prevent wildland fire are often fragmented, un-coordinated and inconsistent yet climate change means these fires are going to get bigger and more dangerous in coming decades.

A team of researchers from Mediterranean countries are presenting a paper at the 5th International Wildfire Conference saying there has to be better communication and co-operation between everyone from farmers to fire fighters to policy makers or else wildland fire will wreak havoc in coming decades.

Wildfire 2011 is taking place from May 9-13 at the Sun City resort, situated in the bushveld of South Africa's North West province, 187 km from Johannesburg.”

At the conference, researcher Ana Sebastián-López, and others, will introduce delegates to the European Union’s Firesmart project which is aimed at connecting communities involved in forest fire prevention. The main tool of the initiative is a Firesmart website (http://www.firesmart-project.eu) but other activities like international and local technical workshops as well as personal interviews are also organised.

In their presentation, the team will share early findings from this paper of research into obstacles preventing the effectiveness of fire fighting measures in four local areas and offer their recommendations of how to integrate prevention practices into regular forest management plans. The areas they researched included the Pinhal Interior Norte region in central Portugal, Valencia in Eastern Spain, south eastern France, in the Metropolitan area between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, and the Cagliari Province in south eastern Sardinia. All these areas suffer from regular uncontrolled wildland fire.

Their observation is that climate change means that fire danger, fire  occurrence, length of the fire season, and annual area burnt are all going  to increase. Warmer and drier conditions, especially in areas like the Mediterranean, are expected to increase the frequency, duration and
 intensity of fires, and greater amounts of fuel in unmanaged forests will  cause more and wilder fires.

They quote an earlier paper that says the most severe portion of the fire  season may shift to later in the summer, resulting in potentially greater  fire occurrence and that burnt area is expected to increase by as much as  80% over the next 100 years under due to the projected climate warming.
 
 They found the biggest obstacles to fire prevention were forestry policies  and that both public and private forestry areas were not properly managed  for fire prevention.

 * Wildfire 2011 is organised by AfriFireNet, the sub-Saharan wildland fire network and funded by the South African government. It has the backing of  the United Nations’ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Food and Agricultural Organisation.

 
Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of  Wildfire 2011
For more information please call:
Evelyn John Holtzhausen, on +27-(0) 82 658 6007
E-mail: evelyn@hwb.co.za
Media registration: www.wildfire2011.org