By promoting an integrated fire management approach, the Wildfire project as part of the Working Landscapes programme will contribute to establish fire-smart territories (FST). This should result in reduced or eliminated risk of extreme wildfire events for the benefits of sustainable use of forest and trees, contributing to climate-smart landscapes.
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 spiraling out of control and becoming wildfires.
In a fire-smart territory, stakeholders manage land use and fire to reach jointly agreed objectives and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Therefore, our long-term goal is that governments, at different scales, in the countries where the TBI network operates improve the enabling environment for the implementation of sound fire-management practices in their climate and land-use policies. On the short term, we seek that national and local authorities, in collaboration with local stakeholders implement effective, locally appropriate and inclusive fire-smart strategies.
The features of fire-smart territories are context specific, and goals and related strategies to increase fire resilience will vary between the different landscapes. The project will therefore pursue two lines of work towards a more comprehensive and effective fire management approach. First of all, at the level of government and governance, to improve policies and regulations related to land-use planning, agriculture and forestry, to create an enabling environment for the implementation of effective fire management practices on the ground, with a special focus on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs; designed to improve coherence of policies related to climate change mitigation and adaptation) to anchor such policies in a broader framework. Secondly, at the landscape level, we will work to implement integrated fire management practices, building on the fire smart territory approach, incorporating landscape-level agreements and the harmonization of approaches among different institutions, as well as elements of education, fire preparedness, response and post-fire recovery.
Initially the project will start in Bolivia and Indonesia, where our partners already have experience with fire management. In Bolivia, IBIF has carried out a rapid-fire response project in 2019-2020 that serve as a basis for the activities to be developed for this project, including the implementation of effective, locally appropriate and inclusive fire-smart strategies with local partners to reduce the risk of wildfires that affect forested areas and trees and forest-based livelihoods. In Indonesia, network partner Tropenbos Indonesia has a long history of fire research and was involved in designing a district-level fire response planning in 2020. For this Wildfire project, their focus is on rewetting of peatlands to reduce the occurrence of wildfires by involving local stakeholders in a collaborative management process.
Later we will expand the project to other countries where the TBI network works
The Wildfire project is part of the Working Landscapes programme financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.