Bioenergy production could play a part in reducing forest fires

Bioenergy can play a role in reducing the risk of forest fires, according to a video recently published on the European Forest Institute’s website.

Across the world, forest fires devastate large areas of forest every year. In 2017, the tragic trend has been seen in forest fires in France, the USA and Portugal. In its new video, the EFI looks at the factors behind increased forest fire risks in the Mediterranean, and advocates a new vision “based on shifting the focus from reactive fire suppression to long term proactive fire prevention and forest management at the landscape scale.”

According to EFI, four key factors have seen the risk of forest fire in the Mediterranean region outpace fire suppression capabilities, despite the investment of billions of euros.

  • the expansion of forests as a result of rural abandonment;
  • the increase in fuel loads due to lack of forest management;
  • the high number of fire ignitions due to socio-economic and land-use related factors;
  • climate change and increasing weather risk conditions.

“Now, we need a new vision where the focus is shifted from fire suppression to fire prevention and forest management: managing our forests to be more resilient to climate change and addressing the socio-economic and land-use conflicts responsible for the high number of fire ignitions.” EFI writes on its website.

Developing the bioeconomy can help to secure the economic sustainability of this new vision. Bioenergy, engineered wood products for sustainable construction, biomaterials based on cork and resin, or edible forest products all offer opportunities to develop economic value chains around forests, while also ensuring forests are managed in a sustainable, safe way which reduces the risk of fire. 

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