The working group on forest fire has been led by Spain since its conception and it has been co-led by Türkiye since 2012. The departments in charge for Spain is the Forest Fire Service of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge and in Türkiye, it is the General Directorate of Forestry (OGM) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Türkiye.
The working group also constitutes the focal point of the International Network on Forest Fires for the Mediterranean Region.
Since its beginning, three work plans have been designed (2009–2012, 2013–2016 and 2017–2020), setting a road map to address relevant topics on wildfires in the Mediterranean region and given a special emphasis to wildfire prevention actions. Throughout these years, many steps have been taken through research, the development of new technologies, the professionalization of fire-fighting resources, population awareness and the conciliation of interests. However, to cope with the complex reality of wildfires, there is still a long way to go in the implementation of prevention and preparedness measures that will allow us to:
- create resistant and resilient landscapes, reducing the negative impacts and increasing the ability to recover quickly;
- face response operations in a more effective and safe way in the benefit of population and wildfire suppression resources;
- have more responsible and involved politicians and populations in the prevention of wildfires; and
- integrate all actors from different sectorial policies with a role and responsibility on wildfire management.
Focal points are the key elements to ensure awareness raising of the relevant people, actors and services concerned on the need to look at the national and local problems in the frame of a common environment that is the Mediterranean Basin. The development and success of this work plan depends on:
- the establishment of a complete and active network of focal points;
- the financing of activities by national projects in Mediterranean countries and by financial resources form related organizations and donors supporting regional activities; and
- international connections of the WG globally to promote and increase the visibility of the Mediterranean region and its fire related aspects at the global level.
Objectives and actions for the period 2021–2024
WILDFIRE PREVENTION: REDUCING RISK WHILE INCREASING PREPAREDNESS
- update and disseminate the Position Paper on Wildfire Prevention in the Mediterranean (2011) to the current data and foreseen scenarios to serve as a reference for all WG1 activities;
- propose the development of Mediterranean Guidelines for controlled and prescribed burns management, based in the recently approved Spanish guidelines;
- facilitate knowledge and experience exchanges by sharing local, national and regional experiences on wildfire prevention; and
- highlight the relevance of ensuring interagency coordination for wildfire related policies (the involvement of sectorial policies).
WILDFIRE SUPPRESSION: STRENGTHENING INTEROPERABILITY OF RESOURCES
- emphasize the need of common standard procedures and protocols to increase efficiency and safety during the exchange of resources in firefighting operations;
- promote and support initiatives directed to develop and implement an Incident Command System (ICS) type model adapted to the region;
- promote regional training initiatives with a special focus in neighbouring countries; and
- highlight the relevance of the positions and profiles including a liaison officer (to ensure integration of resources from different agencies) and a fire behaviour analyst (to support decision-making by reducing uncertainties and clarifying possible scenarios, shifting to a more anticipatory and proactive approach in the suppression strategies).
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: REINFORCING PREPAREDNESS
- enhance international preparedness and cooperation in all phases of the wildfire cycle (e.g. public awareness programs, education, research) by sharing knowledge and experiences among Mediterranean countries, in particular among neighbour countries;
- expand collaborative efforts with other regions of the world possessing similar vegetation and wildfire problems (e.g. California, Chile, and Australia); and
- promote reference documents within the Region and abroad.
COORDINATED RESEARCH: PROVIDING ANSWERS TO END USERS’ NEEDS
- establish connection with the research community by participating in R+D projects as partners or end users;
- contribute to defining objectives and products based on real needs and with real potential for implementation;
- participate and promote knowledge and technology transfer initiatives; and
- promote the increase of the understanding of social, landscape and economic drivers of wildfires through research to support the development of different sectorial policies.
COOPERATION WITH OTHER WORKING GROUPS WITHIN SILVA MEDITERRANEA
The implementation of this work plan would benefit from interactions with other working groups of Silva Mediterranea, such as:
- forest Management and sustainable development;
- urban and peri-urban forestry; and
- desertification and restoration.
In order to ensure a fluent cooperation and the identification of synergies with other working groups, coordinators, with the support of the Silva Mediterranea Secretariat, will share all relevant documents and events in the context of wildfires among the different working groups.