Archive for July, 2013

IUFRO Spotlight #14 – Wildfire projected to spread like, well, wildfire

Wildfire projected to spread like, well, wildfire

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Boreal wildfire, Saskatchewan, Canada (Photo by Bill de Groot, Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service)

Boreal wildfire, Saskatchewan, Canada (Photo by Bill de Groot, Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service)

A recently published study: Global Wildland Fire Season Severity in the 21st Century, indicates that in
coming decades, conventional approaches to wildfire management may no longer be effective.It appears in a Forest Ecology and Management journal special issue entitled The
Mega-fire reality, published by Elsevier.The study is a first global review that shows the extent of the increasing length of the fire season and the increasing fire weather severity. It gives a “state of the science” assessment of global fire and climate change and an indication of the strength and trajectory of change in future fire regimes.The publication provides fire managers from countries around the world with a global picture of expected fire season severity increases.The results indicate the importance of sharing resources for increased fire protection capacity as well as the importance of early warning as a means of preventing or mitigating disaster fires.Referring to recent disastrous fires in Australia in ’09, Russia in ’10 and Texas and other U.S. states in ’11 as possible precursors of what is coming, the publication reinforces its underlying message that fire management is going to be greatly challenged in the future and new policy/strategy development is needed.The authors – Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta, Department of Renewable Resources; Mike Wotton of the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto and the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada; and Alan S. Cantin, William J. de Groot, Alison Newbery and Lynn M. Gowman of the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada – say fire severity will increase significantly across most of the earth by the end of the century, but especially in the Northern Hemisphere where it could be three times greater by that time.

Globally, along with the increased severity, more area is expected to burn and there will be increased fire occurrence and greater fire intensity. In turn, that will result in more severe fire seasons and an increase in fire control difficulty.

Many parts of the world, such as tropical areas and the Mediterranean region already have a full-year fire season, but in northern high latitudes, fire season lengths will, by the end of the century, increase by more than 20 days a year.

The consistency in the results suggesting significant increases may, according to the authors, be attributed to the role temperature plays in fire activity. Almost the entire globe is expected to warm this century and, the authors note, numerous studies suggest temperature is the most important variable affecting annual wildland fire activity and warmer temperatures lead to increased fire activity.

The study notes four factors that strongly influence fire – fuels, ignition agents, climate/weather and people but adds that we cannot change the weather, nor can we significantly modify lightning activity.

The remaining options are to reduce human-caused ignitions (through education, restricting or excluding the use of fire and by rigorous enforcement of existing policies) and to modify fuels. The authors note that fuels cannot be treated on a global scale but could be treated on a local level near areas of high value.

The full study can be found at:


Media Contact

Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)


Related Links

Publication: The Mega-fire reality:

IUFRO Spotlights main page,


IUFROLAT III – Congress Conclusions in Spanish and English

In addition to the original Spanish version of the Congress resolutions, an adapted translation into English has now been released. Here are links to the two versions:

Also visit the Congress website at:

Photo by Michael Kleine (IUFRO): During post-Congress field trip

Photo by Michael Kleine (IUFRO): During post-Congress field trip


The Third IUFRO Latin American Congress under the theme of “Forests, Competitiveness and Sustainable Landscapes” held in San José, Costa Rica, from 12-15 June 2013, was an extraordinary experience as it brought together a unique range of actors from the natural resources sector of Latin America and provided an ideal platform for intensive discussion and exchange of experiences.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • Almost 600 participants
  • Four keynote addresses
  • Approx. 300 scientific papers presented in 53 technical sessions
  • Some 182 posters

During the closing session of the Congress, Ronnie de Camino, Director of the Latin American Chair of Forests Landscapes Management, CATIE, presented key messages and guidance on action to be taken in order to strengthen the dialogue on forests in Latin America at all levels and across all disciplines and enhance science cooperation and communication of science-based information.

Photo: Ronnie de Camino / CATIE

Photo: Ronnie de Camino / CATIE

In his statement, he also noted that this congress was a milestone for IUFRO regarding the participation of Latin American scientists in the world’s forest science network.

The Congress Resolutions in Spanish language can be found at:

An edited advance English version shall be available soon!