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Forest fires (prediction, prevention and suppression)

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Background to fire management.
    1. Global warming.
    2. Historical use of fire.
    3. Expansion of the concept of fire management.
  3. Global changes.
    1. Fire and food security.
    2. Fire regimes.
    3. Population growth.
  4. Fire prediction.
    1. Silvicultural factors contributing to hanges in fire prediction.
    2. Human-induced fires.
    3. Fire danger rating.
  5. Fire prevention.
    1. Initial steps in fire prevention.
    2. Integrated (forest) fire management.
    3. Incentive schemes.
  6. Preparedness.
    1. In the USA.
    2. In Namibia.
  7. Fire suppression.
    1. Tactics.
    2. Incident command system.
    3. Techniques.
    4. Mopping up.
  8. Conclusion.

The problems and negative impacts associated with large-scale uncontrolled forest ?res have increased worldwide over the past two decades. Globally an estimated 300?400 million hectares of forests and woodlands burn annually, emitting an estimated 9.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases; however, ?re is a vital and natural part of some forest ecosystems, and a multitude of plants and tree species have become ?re-dependent. In the early 1990s global changes had reached proportions that led to the global meeting in Rio de Janeiro (Earth Summit, 1992). Changes in the global ?re dynamic and an increase in weather disturbances like El Nino have now created a growing awareness that ?res are a major threat to many forests and their biodiversity therein, directly contributing to the climate change process. In particular, tropical rainforests which were thought to be resistant to ?res are now experiencing large-scale ?res because of unsuitable silvicultural management practices. Globally 95% of all ?res originate from various human activities; therefore these activities can be predicted and to some degree prevented well in advance. The dif?culty lies in predicting and minimizing the impacts of the remaining 5% of all ?res which are mostly caused by lightning.

[...] SUMMARY The problems and negative impacts associated with large-scale uncontrolled forest ?res have increased worldwide over the past two decades. Globally an estimated 300?400 million hectares of forests and woodlands burn annually, emitting an estimated 9.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases; however, ?re is a vital and natural part of some forest ecosystems, and a multitude of plants and tree species have become ?re-dependent. In particular, tropical rainforests which were thought to be resistant to ?res are now experiencing large-scale ?res because of unsuitable silvicultural management practices. [...]


[...] Initial Steps in Fire Prevention The work on forest ?re prevention starts by ?nding out why wild?res burn; when the reasons are ascertained and then strategies for ?re prevention can be prepared. Without knowing the reasons for burning, no effective awareness program can be developed, and it is impossible to direct the awareness program to the right target population (such as children, women, men, farmers, hunters, beekeepers, tourists, campers). There are a variety of reasons why wild?res appear; more often than not, it is a question of ownership or proprietorship of the resource base-land or crop tenure rights can differ between formal laws and customary (traditional) laws. [...]


[...] However, ?re preparedness may have a totally different connotation depending on the socio-cultural and economic situation at the site of the ?re. The preparedness also depends on whether the local people are using ?re as a management tool in their daily lives or whether the ?res in the area are caused by lightning, as two examples below illustrate. In the USA Fire preparedness at a district level may mean that budgets have been approved, funds allocated, staff trained, equipment tested, fuel reductions carried out, ?re?ghters are on standby, the daily ?re danger rating is monitored, and the general public have been informed about the ?re weather. [...]

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