Wildfire position paper
Wildfire Prevention in the Mediterranean - position paper
While wildfires are already a preoccupation in the Mediterranean, in the light of the scientific world’s diagnosis of new climatic scenarios, managers are faced with a general trend of increased burnt areas and a rise in the frequency, intensity and severity of fires (a wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area.
Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, veldfire and wildland fire may be used to describe the same phenomenon depending on the type of vegetation being burned). Significant prevention efforts have been focused on training, investigation, awareness raising and structural prevention. As a consequence of social economic processes (rural abandonment, aging of rural populations, changing management of production system, etc.), the vegetation structure has already changed drastically increasing the risk of a traditional fire use (traditional fire is the use of fire by rural communities for land and resource management purposes based on traditional know-how).
However, these efforts need to be intensified to deal with the consequences of climate change.
The opportunities to address wildfire prevention at international level were identified within the framework of:
- The 4th International Conference on Wildland Fire in Seville, Spain (2007);
- The FAO Workshop on “Forest Fires in the Mediterranean Region”, Sabaudia, Italy (2008);
- The workshop on “Assessment of Forest Fire Risks and Innovative Strategies for Fire Prevention’’, Rhodes, Greece (2010).
During those workshops, several recommendations on wildfire prevention were provided by experts from Mediterranean countries. The present position paper was prepared on the basis of the conclusions and recommendations of these previous events in the Mediterranean.The main recommendations of this position paper on wildfire prevention are focused on:
- Enhancement of the international cooperation on wildfire prevention (see sheet 1);
- Integration of wildfire prevention in National Forest Programs/Policies and in National Strategies for Adaptation to climate change (see sheet 2);
- Promotion of knowledge and education on wildfire prevention (see sheet 3);
- Enhancement of sustainable financial mechanisms for prevention of wildfires (see sheet 4);
- Enhancement of harmonized Information Systems to deal with new wildfire risks (see sheet 5).
This position paper on Wildfire Prevention was endorsed by the main Mediterranean stakeholders during the Second Mediterranean Forest Week organized in Avignon from 5 to 8 April 2011. This document is an opportunity to address wildfire prevention in the context of climate change and to implement these recommendations in all countries of the Mediterranean. It was also presented as the position of Mediterranean stakeholders during regional sessions of the 5th International Wildland Fire Conference held in South Africa (Sun City) on May 11, 2011.