Emergency jets dropped water over western Spain on June 27e to prevent a wildfire that had ravaged some 30,000 hectares of land during a heat wave from reigniting, the region’s environment department said. If estimates are correct, the blaze, which started in the worst mid-June heat wave in more than 40 years, would have caused the most surface damage in the last 20 years, according to ministry data. of the environment. Although there are no more flames, the service said in July that ground and air troops were still active. Although the weather improved, there was still work to be done.
Regional authorities reported that hundreds of people from small villages who were forced to flee their homes at the end of June were allowed to return as temperatures plummeted across Spain on June 27.e. Footage from a helicopter showed rain falling on the Sierra de la Culebra, a forested mountainous region near the Portuguese border, famous for being home to Iberian wolves.
The risk and size of wildfires have increased dramatically around the world due to climate change. Temperature, soil moisture, and the availability of trees, bushes, and other possible fuel sources are just a few of the variables that affect wildfire danger. All of these are strongly linked to climate variability and climate change, directly or indirectly: for example, climate change is accelerating the rate at which organic forest materials dry out, making it easier to burn and spread forest fires. As the climate warms and dries out, places like Spain face more droughts and a longer fire season, increasing the risk of wildfires. Land use and forest management also contribute to these risks.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), a changing climate leads to changes in the frequency , intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather events. and climatic events. Climate change can also lead to unprecedented extreme weather and climate events. As in the western United States, wildfires are indeed increasing in frequency, duration and severity. Forest fires are a major source of airborne particles, mainly during the summer. This particulate matter can make people in affected areas more susceptible to developing lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and/or asthma.
Global Forest Watch recorded more than 4.5 million fires larger than one square kilometer in 2019 alone. These flames have destroyed ecosystems, people and economies in the Amazon, Alaska, Australia, California , Europe, Indonesia and Russia. Wildfires also destroy animal habitats, forcing them to leave forested areas and encounter other people in the area, including people and pets. This contact risks spreading diseases like COVID-19.
Natural fires are essential to the health of the forest ecosystem. However, the primary focus of fire management over the past century has been fire suppression. This widespread, but ineffective, management strategy has interfered with normal forest ecology and encouraged the buildup of fuels like dry organic matter, making forest fires devastating.
More recent forest management practices have begun to combine active thinning with a managed natural burn program to better protect the wilderness. By using fire-resistant design elements and materials in construction, increasing funding for firefighting and fire prevention, and removing combustibles like dead trees from at-risk forests, communities, builders, owners and forest managers can reduce the risks and effects of wildfires. To reduce erosion, limit flooding, and minimize habitat destruction, more emphasis should be placed at the state level on creating recovery plans before a fire starts and on implement these plans as soon as possible after a fire. The financial costs of good forest fire management are far outweighed by the savings made. By focusing on forest fire planning, prevention and preparedness, governments can minimize the damage caused by fires.
Governments can also refocus land use incentives and policies to improve land management and planning. This requires taking measures such as removing unwarranted incentives for risky behavior (e.g. the use of fire to clear forest land), defining land rights to prevent the reckless use of fire, and improved sector coordination to end conflicting practices.
Wildfire management is often seen as a global emergency rather than a regular aspect of landscape maintenance. Governments must therefore strike a balance between funding fire suppression efforts and wildfire prevention strategies, including reducing fuel loads, returning ecosystems to their natural fire cycles, and educating users. fire. They can still use proven methods to deal with fires. In fact, it is advisable to implement or develop techniques such as fire monitoring and early detection, fire risk assessment and asset vulnerability management (through buffer zones and adoption of regulations and standards).
Finally, governments can seek to improve stakeholder cooperation and preparedness. Many parties are involved in wildfire management and response, including local communities, different levels of government, the commercial sector and civil society organizations. Establishing clear roles, duties and tasks during the planning phase of fire management facilitates effective coordination.
Wildfire prevention measures may not receive as much attention or recognition as suppression efforts. However, the social, economic and ecological costs of extreme wildfires must be reduced if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the goals of the post-2020 biodiversity framework.