Editors: Cristina Montiel and Daniel Kraus
Abstract: Prescribed burning is increasingly being recognized and incorporated as a management practice in forest and other land management policies, especially in those countries which were pioneering its introduction in Europe. In this context, prescribed fire appears to be a potential management technique to attain different objectives such as silvicultural improvement, control of insects and diseases, habitat management and biodiversity conservation. Further, it has been demonstrated in the field of fire management that the use of fire is an efficient tool for the reduction of hazardous fuels and as an indirect attack during wildfire suppression (suppression fire). In most European countries, however, there are still important constrains and negative attitudes towards the use of fire that need to be overcome.
In the frame of the Fire Paradox project “An innovative approach for integrated wildland fire management. Regulating the wildfire problem by the wise use of fire: solving the fire paradox” (2006–2010), which aims to create the scientific and technological bases for new practices and policies for integrated wildland fire management, the assessment of prescribed burning and suppression fire practices has been undertaken by both the research and development domains, in order to identify opportunities as well as promote the future development of strategies for its implementation in Europe.
Within this context, this publication aims to provide policy makers, policy implementers and the general public with background information and analysis for the successful implementation of prescribed burning and suppression fire practices in European countries. By analysing successful case studies, it seeks to understand the factors that influence the success of prescribed burning and suppression fire and to facilitate application in other countries.
For this purpose the book is structured in three sections. The first section provides background information for those not familiar with the practice of fire use for management objectives. It includes general and basic notions on prescribed burning and suppression fire, as well as an overview of the spatial and temporal development of both practices in Europe. It also provides the main criteria considered for the identification of good examples.
The second section constitutes the core of the book, which consists of a selection of good practices and best programmes that present, in some cases, long-term examples for the most representative objectives for fire use as a management practice in Europe, namely nature conservation in protected areas, the management of habitats for hunting, landscape management, fire use in fuel reduction and during fire fighting (suppression fire). The authors of the case studies are managers responsible for the creation and implementation of the practice or programme of the Fire Paradox consortium as well as external professionals. The reason for this choice is related to the character of the book, which serves to disseminate good practices, and therefore needs the adoption of a more practical approach to be better understood by end-users. The book concludes with an analysis of potential barriers and factors for success for the development of prescribed burning and suppression fire, as well as a discussion on the lessons learned and the way ahead.