Extreme wildfire events: addressing governance & management challenges

A session at this year’s European Climate Change Adaptation conference focused on addressing the challenges that extreme wildfires pose to European governance and management systems.

The session brought together researchers and experts to discuss Integrated Fire Management Strategies. From my point of view this was very timely as forest fires are an issue for not only the European South, but increasingly the central and northern European countries.

From the discussions, there seems to be the need to better manage the landscape, and improve the integration of prevention and emergency response processes. In addition, it essential to involve or actively engage citizens with preparedness and response activities, leading to an increased acceptance of solutions as well as ownership of the plans.

What I also realised is that Europe can learn a great deal from the global South in terms of the connectedness of people to the landscape. This last point led me to consider that, within Europe, we need to find ways to incentivise people to return to the countryside (keeping in mind the current trend for urbanisation and further accumulation of people in cities), and engage them in landuse practices which could help to ensure a collaborative approach to fire management.

An interesting point is how multiple fires interact. This is where additional research is needed, as it is unclear how their interaction can lead to creation of their own ‘weather systems’. If we better understand this interaction, and improve the understanding and knowledge of wildfire ‘behavior’, it could inform development of preparedness and emergency response measures.

From an adaptation point of view, from my understanding, we need to create dynamic and adaptive measures that take into account the evolving spatial and temporal trends for fire risk in Europe.