FAO Strategy On Forest Fire Management

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FAO Strategy on Forest Fire ManagementContentsThe Wildfire Context. 2Wildfire Management Problem Statement . 4FOA Fire Management Programme Justification . 4Fire Management in FAO. 4Current Fire Management Activities and Demands . 5Representing FAO . 6FAO Fire Management Strategic Objective . 6Goals . 6FAO Focus . 6Products . 8Fire Management Strategy Modality . 8How FAO Fire Management will do it . 8FAO Fire Management Partners . 9People . 11Funding . 11Attachment 1: A Sample of Wildfire Events and Impacts . 12Attachment 2: Integrated Fire Management . 15Page 1 of 17

The Wildfire ContextFires have been used by humans for millennia and play a critical role in many ecosystems. The use of firefor hunting, favouring preferred plants for food, fodder or fibre, clearing for agriculture and grazing, easingtravel and controlling pests is well documented, historical and continues today. This is particularly the casein developing countries where people depend directly on forests and agriculture for their livelihood andfood security. Fires maintain some ecosystems, such as savannas.There are many terms used to describe or label fires and they vary depending on the landscape beingburned (forest, savanna, brush, scrub, veld), the fuel type being burned (forest, chaparral, grassland), thesocial or cultural context (livelihoods, festivals, traditional, conflict) and perhaps regulatory framework(permit fires, illegal fires). The terms include fires, wildfires, wildland fire, forest fire, grass fire, scrub fire,brush fire, bush fire, veldt fire, rural fire, vegetation fire and so on (IUFRO 2018). The European Forest FireInformation System (EFFIS) uses “forest fire”. The Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) uses thewider term “wildfire” (an uncontained and unwanted fire). Consistent with international terminology andfor consistency FAO uses the term “wildfire” to describe any uncontrolled forest fire, grass fire, peat fire orscrub fire and the term “fire” to include all intended or prescribed vegetation fires. A “fire” may of coursetransition to be a “wildfire” if it escapes or becomes uncontrolled.About 4 % of the global vegetated area is burnt every year by fires, natural, prescribed and wild. Wildfireshave significant impacts on humans and on the natural environment. They affect human lives andlivelihoods and result in high social and economic costs, associated not only with the damage, but also withthe prevention and suppression measures put in place every year. Fires cause large increases ofatmospheric emissions and pollutants, soil erosion, reduce the provision of goods and services by forests,and change land cover patterns and landscape ecosystem dynamics1. A review of extreme wildfire eventsbetween 2002 and 20132 identified that: Wildfires can have disastrous impacts and extreme wildfire events can be ‘disasters’ (characterisedby impacts including damage and loss to built assets and infrastructure and loss of life), are globallydistributed and nearly all (96%) are associated with dangerous and unusual weather conditionssuch as high fire danger, high winds, high temperatures, anomalous climatic conditions such asdrought or abundant precipitation stimulating vegetative growth in arid regions. Wildfires reported as being economically or socially disastrous are concentrated in suburban areasintermixed with flammable forest in the developed world. The influence of weather conditions in extreme wildfire events suggests increasing vulnerability tothese events with climate changePeople are the cause of 90% of fires globally through a combination of poor practice, limited access toalternative approaches to fire, accidents, weak understanding of fire risk, machinery, negligence andcarelessness. However, although wildfires are most often initiated by human actions, their intensity andtheir effects are mainly driven by fuel condition and availability, vegetation structure and meteorologicaland topographic conditions.The social aspects, which are basically related to community-based fire management and communitywildfire relations beyond wildland fire causes and wildland fire defence organisation, are less well known.Basic research on the social aspects of wildland fire is very limited. The existing literature is mainly appliedresearch, in particular case-studies of certain aspects of the social dimensions of wildland fires (wildfirehuman causes and influencing factors; fire laws/policies/regulations; fire management; socioeconomicimpacts of wildfire risk; social awareness/vulnerability/ resilience to wildfire risk, etc.).1Poljanšek, K., Marin Ferrer, M., De Groeve, T., Clark, I., (Eds.), 2017. Science for disaster risk management 2017:knowing better and losing less. EUR 28034 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2017, ISBN978-92-79-60679-3, doi:10.2788/842809, JRC102482.2David M. J. S. Bowman, Grant J. Williamson, John T. Abatzoglou, Crystal A. Kolden,Mark A. Cochrane and Alistair M. S. Smith 2017 Human exposure and sensitivity to globallyextreme wildfire events Nature Ecology & Evolution, Volume: 1 Article Number: 0058Page 2 of 17

The trend of rural to urban migration, socioeconomic and policy changes sees fewer people, less activityand altered management in rural areas in developed countries, also a trend in developing countries if itoutpaces population increase. This contributes to increasing the amount and continuity of the fuels acrossthe landscape of grasses, shrubs and forest vegetation. Seasonal dry periods, droughts and winds then drythe fuels.The need is for research at the community level, since this is the scale at which people organise andinteract. Research is needed in both technical and social spheres. It is easy to predict that developments inwildfire risk management will follow the increase in sophistication and use of digital technologies. Theselargely support the readiness, response and recovery phases in disaster management. Significant changes inhuman behaviour are needed for a decrease in ignition events for which social research will be valuable.Notably, indigenous/traditional knowledge is known to be a rich resource that has been recognised andapplied in a number of cases and continues to be explored by FAO and others. Creating opportunities forresilient and sustainable agriculture and forest management for communities and smallholders is critical,including for fire and its management. The many aspects of community traditional fire knowledge (TFK) andresult in complex, sophisticated approaches to fire use that account for the seasons, changes and trends inweather, vegetation, landscape and fuels. Accessing the TFK of communities and smallholders can beaccompanied as appropriate with support and capacity creation in fire management at the local scale.Analyses of fires indicate that 90% of fires are readily contained and burn approximately 10% or less of thetotal area burnt. This suggests that for those fires the current planning, management and technologies areworking reasonably well. That is not to say that improvements can not be made or value added. The other 90% of the area burnt is by 5-10% of fires. These events are the high profile wildfires reported, such asGreece and California in July 2018, and include loss of life, damage and loss to property, infrastructure andenvironmental impacts. These wildfires are uncontainable as they exceed the limits of suppression. There isnothing that fire fighters can do to stop or contain such wildfires until weather or fuel conditions change.The maximum fireline intensity for working directly on the flaming front is considered to be 4,000 kWm 1.For indirect attack, where the tactic is to work at a distance from the wildfire, limit of suppression is 10,000 kWm 1, including all means of firefighting, ground based and aerial. Extreme wildfires alwaysexceed these limits. For example the Pedrógão Grande wildfire, Portugal June 2017, with 65 fatalities, and458 structures destroyed burned with fireline intensities from 20,000 to 60,000 kWm 1 and a rate of spreadof 65 m/min3.The dominant approach to fires in the history of developed countries has been to suppress them andundertake prohibition of fire use. In developing countries the tendency is to adopt the same approach.However, fires are a landscape problem. They are not a problem resulting from insufficient or inadequatemeans of suppression but from the situation of fuel continuity and accumulation of fuels from vegetation.Altered landscapes have made the population increasingly vulnerable. The pressures and influences thatlead to the contributing factors for wildfire disasters being in place need to be analysed, articulated andclearly described.Based on an analysis of the benefits arising from avoided losses, mitigation and prevention measures arewidely considered more cost-effective than post disaster interventions. An increase in mitigationinvestment has occurred in some European countries, but the lack of public and therefore political interestin prevention and mitigation remains a problem.Strong knowledge on disaster risks are important for countries that wish to undertake risk assessments,assess risk management capabilities and record loss and damage data on disasters. Addressing the rootcauses of wildfire risks and increasing the resilience of livelihoods and food systems to lessen the impacts ofwildfires can also include effective fire adaptation measures with co-benefits for climate change mitigation.3Tedim. F. et al 2018. Concept Paper - Defining Extreme Wildfire Events: Difficulties, Challenges, and Impacts. Fire2018, 1, 9; doi:10.3390/fire1010009Page 3 of 17

FAO’s wildfire work includes lessons learned from wildfire risk reduction and emergency response tocurrent hazards and support for long-term climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Key tosuccessfully integrating ecology, society and fire management technologies is effective analysis of thesituation. What is the ecological role, impact, social, cultural and economic context in which fires areoccurring? Who is starting fires and why? What are the fuels in the area and how does fire behave in them?What are the contributing factors and underlying causes of the fire problem, such as land tenure issues,illegal logging, invasive species or climate change?Wildfire governance schemes are urgently needed in order to obtain consensus between the differentstakeholders to create collective willingness and favour the effectiveness of wildfire and fire managementsystems. It is important to identify the institutions/administrations that are relevant for theimplementation of actions related to wildfire risk assessment/mitigation.An approach is needed to systematically analyse the fire problem, identify the needs and select theappropriate strategies, planning tools and tactics to meet the requirements, monitor their implementationand enable continuous improvement, adaptation, reduce vulnerability and underpin resilience. A stronginteraction between science and policy to build a strong knowledge of disaster risk; make efficient use ofdata to better understand the economic impacts of disasters; and adequate preventive policies to reducethe risks of disasters are set out in the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.During the process of considering the disastrous wildfires in Portugal and Europe of 2017 one fire managerstatedI don’t want more resources I want a better landscape.This is the focus needed.Wildfire Management Problem StatementThe negative social, and ecological impacts and economic costs of wildfires on landscapes continue toescalate. In developing countries wildfires impact on food security, sustainability of agriculture and forestryand increase vulnerability of communities, particularly the poor. While developed countries experiencesignificant loss of life, infrastructure and asset damage and loss and very expensive wildfire suppressioncosts, including firefighter deaths (Attachment 1), wildfires will have implications for achieving theSustainable Development Goals.FOA Fire Management Programme JustificationFire Management in FAOFAO has long had a programme on wildfire management and has unique global to local reach, experience,technical capacity and networks among the many disciplines and sectors across which fires impact. It hascontributed an invaluable body of work on fire management including a series of publications andprograms; services to its member countries; and engagement in joint initiatives with many otherinternational organisations, multi-lateral agencies, development partners, NGOs and INGOs and networks.FAO GoalsFAO envisions a world free from hunger and malnutrition, where food and agriculture contribute toimproving the living standards of all, especially the poorest, in an economically, socially andenvironmentally sustainable manner. Achieving FAO’s goals to end hunger and poverty is focused on fivepriorities, the FAO Strategic Objectives. In respect of fire and its management they are:1. HELP ELIMINATE HUNGER, FOOD INSECURITY AND MALNUTRITION; forests are sources of food,fiber, energy and environmental services and there is a need to develop and share analytical toolsfor fire management practices that increase agricultural productivity and conserve naturalresources.Page 4 of 17

2. MAKE AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES MORE PRODUCTIVE AND SUSTAINABLE; throughassisting countries collect relevant fire related data for use in decision-making for evidence-basedfire management policies and practices while ensuring the natural resource base is sustained.3. REDUCE RURAL POVERTY; supporting the fire management required for the rural poor to gainaccess to those resources and services they need4. ENABLE INCLUSIVE AND EFFICIENT AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SYSTEMS; that reduce the risk ofdamaging fires and improve management of prescribed, planned and natural fires.5. INCREASE THE RESILIENCE OF LIVELIHOODS FROM DISASTERS; by helping countries plan to reducerisks from natural and human-caused fires through developing and sharing strategies to reduce theimpact of fires on livelihoods, documenting and sharing knowledge about the implementation ofsuccessful fire risk reduction measures, help to ensure that fire response plans are coordinated atall levels and document and share knowledge about successful fire readiness and response actions.FAO ProgrammesWildfires threaten the successful implementation of important programmes of FAO and its partnersincluding: Sustainable management of natural and planted forests Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) UN-REDD and climate change adaptation Forest & Farm Facility (FFF) and community forestry Dryland management programme and the project “Action Against Desertification”The targets for landscape restoration through FLR, AAD and other programmes are massive. The field workof these critical initiatives can be undone in a day by wildfires. The process of restoring the landscapeincreases the potential for fire by increasing vegetation cover that creates fuel build up and fuel continuity.This will need to be considered and efforts made to develop preventative, resilient systems that will reducerisks and need less restoration after damaging wildfires. Including fire management in day-to-day workthrough inclusion in plans, standard operating procedures, monitoring (precursor conditions), policies andlaws will be required. FAO’s fire management program needs to link with these initiatives of FAO and itspartners to provide the technical, planning, policy and network engagement required to support andstrengthen their understanding and response to fire risks.Current Fire Management Activities and DemandsStrategic Program 5 - Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crisesUnder the SP5 will:1. Continue the development of a global burned area reporting system to provide updated and timelyglobal and regional statistics on burned areas in forests and other land cover classes.2. Carry out a Cost Benefit Analysis of fire management – initially undertaking data collection in 2018then detailed Cost Benefit Analysis in 2019, to be carried out by the Climate Change and Resilienceteam in discussion and consultation with SP5 colleagues, FAO Statistics and partnering withdecentralised offices. .Existing Projects and ProgrammesThe following FAO initiatives, programmes and projects require fire technical and fire management inputand support: Action Against DesertificationForest Landscape RestorationGlobal Peatland InitiativeGlobal Forest Resources AssessmentPotentially also Farm and Farm Facility, Social Forestry and FLEGTPage 5 of 17

Ad Hoc RequestsThere are ad hoc requests received from countries, FAO Regional and Country offices and partners. Atpresent there are requests for project design support, technical input, support, resources, funding,guidance or technical review relating to; India, Algeria, Indonesia, Myanmar, Botswana, Tanzania, a GEFproject in DRC, a GEF project in The Gambia and Nepal and a GCF proposal in Armenia.Representing FAOThere are requirements for FAO to be represented at various meetings, on international groups andentities, such as: Expert Group on Forest Fires of the European Commission International Liaison Group of the International Wildland Fire Conference Fire Management Working Group of the North American Forestry CommissionFAO Fire Management Strategic ObjectiveThe FAO approach to fire management is simultaneously country-driven and global. FAO must approachthe full fire management scope and scale, by engaging with regional and global agendas and bridging shortand long-term timeframes; and look to strengthen international understanding of the realities, principles,requirements and experience of wildland fire management to: Enable communities, local agencies, and national organizations to implement effectiv

social or cultural context (livelihoods, festivals, traditional, conflict) and perhaps regulatory framework (permit fires, illegal fires). The terms include fires, wildfires, wildland fire, forest fire, grass fire, scrub fire, brush fire, bush fire, veldt fire, rural fire, vegetation fire and so on (IUFRO 2018). The European Forest Fire

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