Friday, 1 March 2013

Knowledge for Wildfire

Well, my post-a-day pledge did not last long.  However, I can claim some extenuating circumstances.  I attended the launch of the Knowledge for Wildfire project in Manchester, on Wednesday afternoon, intending to produce some words on the train home.  My plans were disrupted by a broken train, but let me not digress further.

I was delighted to be invited to join the Steering Group for this new, NERC-funded project, Knowledge for Wildfire (KfWf), that is being run by Julia McMorrow.  I have worked with Julia before in support of the FIRES project and this new project is in many ways a continuation of it.

Dr Matt Davies, from the University of Glasgow (but based in Dumfries), gave an excellent presentation, at the launch event; he emphasised again that there are large gaps in our knowledge about fire on moorland in general, and we know even less about wildfire.  We need to plug these gaps if we are to be able to make evidence-based decisions about wildfire.

KfWf will be looking to establish better links over wildfire issues between landowners / managers, fire researchers and the Fire & Rescue Services and this fits well with my role as Vice-chairman of the England & Wales Wildfire Forum and my membership of the Scottish Wildfire Forum.

If this work is of interest to you, I recommend the KfWf website to you.  Look out for the statistics on the Home page about the number of wildfires (recorded as grassland fires) in the period 2010 - 12.  Would you have guessed 118,000?

Wildfire is a cross-cutting issue that can have big impact on incomes, biodiversity, ecosystem services, landscape etc.  To reduce the risk of damage from wildfire, we need to work across sectors, and apply fire science and high-tech approaches to inform the best management practices.  This is right up my street, and I look forward to helping with the development of the project.

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