Towards fire-smart landscapes
We envision a future with reduced or eliminated risk of wildfire events for the benefits of sustainable use of forest and trees in climate smart landscapes
The human, social and environmental tragedies of extreme wildfires have captured international headlines over the past decade for good reason. Wildfires are increasing in intensity, frequency and scale of impact due to a complex interplay of factors, including climate change creating more favourable wildfire conditions.
There is a need for an effective fire management where stakeholders jointly manage the land ánd fire management. This can be achieved through fire-smart landscape governance for reducing wildfire risk where different approaches are understood, recognized, and applied and addressing multiple needs of different stakeholders, in particular: (i) collective learning; (ii) empowering communities, and; (iii) improving policies and practices.
On this page you will find links to publications, interview articles, news items and external resources, and more related to our work on fire-smart landscape governance. We will continue our work and share our findings through regular updates on this site. So, come back soon to find out more!
Visit also the page of our Fire-smart landscape governance programme
‘There is a need of active involvement of indigenous and local communities (and their knowledge), local government, smallholders and other stakeholders in developing and implementing effective wildfire risk reduction strategies, policies and practices as extreme wildfires increase in numbers and intensity’. This is one of the main recommendations from the session ‘Fire-smart landscapes as a promising approach for effective adaptation and mitigation’ during the Global Landscape Forum Climate: Frontiers of Change in November 2022 in Sharm El Sheik.
Catastrophic wildfires across the globe have been grabbing headlines in recent years. A 2022 report from the United Nations Environment Programme indicates that wildfires are growing in frequency and intensity, and spreading in range, and predicts a 30% increase in the number of wildfires by 2050. Hotter and drier weather, next to changes in land use, are considered the main drivers. This stresses the importance of allocating more resources for preventing extreme wildfires occurring in the first place, alongside fire suppression after they have started.
In Ketapang, Indonesia, fires keep recurring on drained peatlands, with devastating effects. Preventing them requires restoring water levels, but government officials, companies and farmers have long resisted this approach, fearing it would compromise the economy. In 2021, Tropenbos Indonesia managed to change their minds — a crucial first step towards structural fire prevention.
Over the past decade, uncontrolled forest fires have increasingly captured international headlines. They have affected many regions worldwide, including places not previously associated with fires, such as dense tropical forests. The human tragedy, the loss of assets, and the impacts on health and the environment have been tremendous. At the same time, fire contexts have become more complex, due to the effects of climate change; the presence of disturbed, more flammable vegetations; and the increase of economic activities in fire-prone landscapes. This combination of factors has increased the risk of fires spiralling out of control, and becoming wildfires.
The high endemic biodiversity in Madagascar is being threatened by the increasing use of fire that is seeing whole landscapes being gradually transformed from closed forest to savannas. Here, Harifidy Rakoto Ratsimba of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Head of the Regional Eastern Africa Fire Management Research Center (REAFMRC) tells us what is being done, and the next steps needed to reduce the risk of wildfires and the threat to Malagasy forests.
Fires occur every year in Indonesia, during the logging of peat swamp forest, and for clearing land to be developed into industrial plantations, and to a smaller extent in non-peatland areas as part of the traditional practice of shifting cultivation. Here, Atiek Widayati of Tropenbos Indonesia, coordinator of the Indonesian wildfire component of the Working Landscapes programme tells what is being done, and the next steps needed to reduce the risk of wildfires in Indonesia.
In Venezuela, use of fire is a traditional practice by Indigenous peoples and firefighting agencies in savannas and cultivated areas. But due to the effects of climate change, fires are increasingly becoming out of control and more forests are being burned. Here, Bibiana Bilbao of Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela, and case study leader for indigenous fire management in the LANDMARC programme tells us what is being done, and the next steps needed to reduce the risk of wildfires in Venezuela.
In 2019 large parts of Bolivia have been burning. Fires started by farmers and cattle ranchers spread into natural areas, where they were hard to control. The fires caused widespread destruction, but banning the use of fire is not the solution, says Nataly Ascarrunz.
Forest fires have been wreaking havoc in large parts of Indonesia, most of them set deliberately to clear land for oil palm plantations. A recent government moratorium on expanding oil palm in forest areas could help preventing forest fires in the future, but the lack of accurate spatial data is a main barrier to implement the moratorium, says Edi Purwanto.
During the GLF Climate 2022: Frontiers of Change in November 2022 TBI hosted a session that offered an opportunity to share integrated and context-specific fire management and fire risk reduction approaches that combine restoration and regeneration practices and traditional knowledge, as well as how these practices can be scaled up to become part of Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs).
In Ketapang, Indonesia, fires keep recurring on drained peatlands, with devastating effects. This short video presents how Tropenbos Indonesia has been working in an integrated approach for fire prevention in peatlands. The approach implies rewetting peatlands, alternative production systems, protection of forests and most important involving local stakeholders in a collaborative management process.