ANA talks to researchers in MediterRE3 programme to reduce emissions from wildfires

Greece, France and Montenegro have joined forces in a scientific programme – the MediterRE3 – for the adoption of management practices that reduce the risk and extent of wildfires, as well the carbon emissions associated with them.

The National Observatory of Athens is participating in the programme, and as NOA Institute for Environment Research and Sustainable Development associate Dr. Tim van der Schriek explained to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), this started two years ago and effectively acted in two directions: “One part was through the management of forests and the land surface, how we can reduce fires and the expanses they burn. On the part of the Observatory, what we did was to predict how fires change as the climate changes.”

Using specific models, the NOA’s CLIMADAPT team and the Oikos Institute propose that applying fire-smart landscape management practices to just 5% of areas with a high fire risk can reduce the area burnt each year by 15%. They point out that this will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and in achieving the 2050 climate neutrality goals set by the EU.

Based on the findings of the study, smart solutions for fires are effective in reducing the forecast increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to future fires by the end of this century. The CLIMADAPT team has also developed a protocol for assessing the efficiency of fire-smart landscapes using publicly available data.

The MediterRE3 programme is focusing on three landscapes in natural parks in Greece, Montenegro and France – specifically in Luberon, Prokletije and Komovi and the Samaria Gorge – in order to study how such fire-risk management practices might be promoted and adopted. The key in the project’s approach is the management of biomass, with the aim of reducing the spread of fires and their intensity. As the Oikos Institute pointed out, “studying the possibilities for combustion and the possible behaviour of the fire, forests and entire landscapes become more resistant to fires spreading and more resistant to fires starting.”

They have also developed guidelines on “Building Fire-Smart Landscapes in the Mediterranean Region” that adapt the principles of restoring forest landscapes that are based on nature, with the aim of promoting the resilience of Mediterranean forest landscapes and reducing fire risk.

The researchers noted that inadequate land management, which leads to an accumulation of dry biomass, is one of the key reasons why fires start and spread.