Jeudi 18 décembre 2014

Twelve key recommendations for the improvement of forest protection

Results of the analysis of the forest risk management systems within FORRISK regions

Regional recommendations :


1. Encourage the interaction and collaboration of the different forest owners and strengthen the network of stakeholders involved in forest protection and everyday risk and crisis management : In this way, common protection measures impacting the three components of risk, hazards, vulnerability and the stakes involved, can be adopted and applied collectively and stakeholders will have more weight and be more effective when dealing with public authorities.

FORRISK project region forests are mainly private property. Their large number and their fragmentation can impede forest management and hinder any attempts to defend forestry interests when dealing with public authorities and the setting up of any common protection measures. However, working together as a group would help forest owners to overcome these issues. Networks of stakeholders (including public institutions) also need to be built up and strengthened in order to ensure that effective prevention measures and crisis management are undertaken.

FOREST PROTECTION NETWORKS

Forest owner networks :

In Aquitaine, France : The Authorised Trade Union Associations for forest protection against fire (ASA for DFCI) In Portugal : Forest Intervention Areas (ZIF)

Stakeholder networks :

France : a network of foresters known as “Correspondants-Observers” carrying out surveillance work for the Department of Forest Health (DSF) In all regions : firemen, forest professionals



2. Encourage the development of forest-sector businesses and activities

Forest sector businesses and activities are beneficial to forests because it is in the interests of land managers to reduce any risks to their land that would decrease its economical value and profitability. They are therefore actively involved in its management and protection.

THE INVOLVEMENT OF FOREST OWNERS IN THE AQUITAINE REGION

The forests in the Landes de Gascogne in the south-west of France are a consequential source of economic activity in the region of Aquitaine. In order to protect their forests, the forest-owners have grouped together in the ASA for DFCI and contribute towards the financing of the system of forest protection against fire.



3. Get local councillors involved in forest protection

By being involved in forest protection, local councilors can make informed decisions regarding risks and encourage discussion amongst stakeholders going beyond lobbying pressures.


HOW LOCAL COUNCILLORS SHOULD GET INVOLVED

Bring stakeholders together and encourage constructive discussion about issues related to hunting or the practice of slash and burn (impacts on game and risks of forest fire).

Consider any risks of erosion before granting construction permits.

Monitor a site where a fire has recently been extinguished to make sure it will not relight.



4. Consolidate and improve perceptions about risk within the whole community (including the public, local councilors and forest owners)

Not everyone perceives risk in the same way and this poses a problem when a risk needs to be managed collectively. Stakeholders therefore need to improve their knowledge about risk and to be able to associate the notion of land-use with that of risk. This can be achieved via dialogue and the use of objective and reliable risk assessment tools.


EXAMPLES OF HOW TO IMPROVE RISK KNOWLEDGE

Organise communication and awareness raising campaigns within the community about using fires in the countryside, in particular in relation to transient populations during the fire season

Guide councillors so that they know how to obtain specific means of communication and prevention

Set up committees, work groups and collaborative meetings and projects for the different land users (forest managers and hunters about game damages, ramblers, firemen, hunters, etc.) and apply reliable risk assessment tools.



5. Adapt and simplify legislation

As well as be repressive, forest protection legislation should act as an incentive for forest protection and sustainable forest management and be adapted to the situations particular to forestry and forests. If legislation is too complicated and has not been adapted to the forestry sector, it becomes problematic and can even discourage forest owners and stand in the way of protection initiatives. Its enforcement also needs to be monitored to make sure it is respected.


EFFECTS OF COMPLEX LEGISLATION

In Aquitaine, France : multiple laws (with regards to water, government contracts, construction, etc.) add to the work carried out by the DFCI.

In Portugal : the pine is subject to 68 different laws and forest owners have to juggle with seven different institutional bodies.

EXAMPLES OF NON-RESPECTED LEGISLATION

In Aquitaine, France : understorey management laws are often not respected, are not monitored and it is rare for fines to be imposed.

In Portugal : laws regarding the removal of all logging residue to reduce fire risk are not respected or subject to monitoring.

EFFECTS OF CONSTRUCTIVE LEGISLATION

Constructive legislation encourages forest owners and companies to apply good management practices and invest in equipment (make use of subsidies and the tax system).

In the Spanish Basque Country, subsidies are available to both professional and private forest owners for the purchase of machines and for the application of best practices which have low impact on the soil.



6. Develop regional decision support tools related to multirisks for forest owners so that they can integrate risks into their forest management more easily.

The multirisk approach is complex and little studied, but it is none-the-less essential. When applying it, forest owners should be provided with decision support tools with regional parameters in order to help them to sort through all the information and recommendations, which can sometimes be contradictory.


LINKS BETWEEN RISKS

Forest fires, slopes and rain increase the risk of erosion. Storm damages increase the risks of forest fire, insect invasion, the spread of diseases and game, etc..

Multirisk decision support tools are developed in the FORRISK project



7. Apply common protection measures to an area at risk

The geographical boundaries of an area at risk will change according to the hazard(s) involved and will be bigger than the property size. It is therefore more efficient and economical for property owners in that risk area to combine efforts and establish a strategy for managing the risk.


EXAMPLE

A forest owner who applies good practices in his forest in an effort to limit any potential damages, can still fall victim to damages if the same practices are not applied in the surrounding properties by his neighbours.


2. Interregional recommendations (with possible standardisation throughout the countries)


8. Implement a system to assess the efficiency of the protection measures taken, independent of the risk management system

Risk analysis and management can be assessed by implementing performance tools and efficiency and quality indicators. This system would not only be based on the monitoring of damage, but also on, for example, resources used, the adaptability and resilience of the system, interaction between stakeholders, and standardization with the neighbouring regions.


EXAMPLE

This type of assessment system already exists in other sectors, such as the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) tool used by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).



9. Develop lasting monitoring tools in order to raise the alarm and ensure that measures are taken ; monitor the development of hazards and adapt the protection methods to the degree of risk and to global change (see below) ; improve knowledge about risk.

Global change includes : o Climate change : this will increase the hazards to which we will have to adapt (choose species with a greater climatic flexibility, create new infrastructures like the DFCI) o Trade : an increase in trade will threaten systems of protection from insects and diseases o Forestry practices : An increase in the production of wood energy can in some cases be of benefit to forest management and up keeping, but in others (scenarios involving biomass production) it can increase the risk of fire. Short rotation production increases the risk of soil degradation. o People’s behavior and changes in soil use : urbanisation leads to an increase in fragmentation and issues at stake regarding land impacting certain risks. Rural depopulation means that forest owners will be less present on their properties and there will not be enough hunting to control game in some areas. New countryside dwellers often have a different view of nature.

Such monitoring tools need to be standardised throughout Europe


MONITORING TOOLS

Réseau de surveillance de niveau I de la santé des forêts de l’ICPF (International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests) terminé en 2006.

Observatoire de la reconstitution de la forêt du GIP ATGeRI, qui permet une meilleure connaissance des risques et de la forêt.

INDICATEURS QUI PERMETTENT DE SUIVRE LE NIVEAU DE RISQUE

ICP (International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests) level 1 network for monitoring forest health (ended 2006)

Centre for Forest Restoration (France) run by the Public Interest Group for land and risk management (GIP ATGeRI)

Centre for the management of the Aquitaine coast (Observatoire Côte Aquitaine)

RISK LEVEL INDICATORS

Forest Fire Weather Index (IFM), Regional Centre for the monitoring of deer damage run by GIP ATGeRI, and based on the declaration of forest owners and professionals of the wood sector

Sanitary alerts and prevention advice provided by the Phytopathology station of Areeiro (Galicia)

SURVEILLANCE NETWORKS

Watchtowers

Forest fire patrols

Surveillance network for the introduction of new pathogens run by the Department of Forest Health (DSF) in France.



10. Incorporate contingency plans into crisis management

These plans should define the role of forest stakeholders and integrate and anticipate procedures in order to avoid the collapse of the wood market.

The idea behind contingency planning for the most vulnerable areas and for the most damaging hazards is to prepare for the crisis before it happens. The procedures to be carried out should be identified, as well as the key stakeholders and contacts, their methods of coordination, their roles and the tools used for the management of the crisis. This should be done regionally, nationally and trans-nationally and should take into account the three steps of crisis management : when the hazard is announced, the initial response, and the recovery phase. For this latter phase, the contingency plans could include transnational strategies for anticipating and avoiding the collapse of the wood market. As most European countries take similar measures (subsidies, exemptions, natural disaster funds), European legislation should define a set of rules that are applicable directly after the event, in order to speed up the procedures. The contingency plans need to be revised annually.


EXAMPLE

The European Union requires member states that are in areas at risk of having the pine wood nematode to adopt contingency plans to prevent its spread throughout the European Union.



11. Develop and make available knowledge and data related to risks in order to build up a reference data set.évelopper et partager la connaissance sur les risques afin de disposer de données de référence.

Having access to sound reference data is the basis for being able to give sound advice and develop sound protection measures. Such reference data includes information about hazards, forest vulnerability, interactions between different risks and system responses to protection measures taken.

For certain risks, the lack of regional reference data means that it is not possible to advise or inform stakeholders about the best practices to be undertaken. Therefore, an improvement in knowledge about hazards and the vulnerability of forests would be an asset to risk management.

While there is a lot of data related to the monitoring of forest health for most of the regions, they are not always analysed and thus not exploited, due to lack of time and financial means. Communication therefore needs to be improved about what data is available and protocols need to be standardised in order to be able to compare the data and results from country to country.


EXAMPLES

The data related to the monitoring of forest health from the ICP 1 network should be exploited

Improve studies on how fires start

Improve knowledge about how game species respond to hunting practices



12. Develop risk management training programmes within the educational sector related to forestry

Forest risk management should be added to existing programmes in educational establishments teaching forestry and in training centres for forest owners and professionals.


Recommendations related to risks


Forest fires

Efficient forest fire prevention relies on a network of risk managers supported by an institutional or professional forest fire organisation

Forest fire prevention measures taken by forest managers are directly linked to the economical profits made from forest production.

Firefighting operations are run by a chain of command and following military-like procedures, and the firemen need to be specialised in fighting forest fires.

In all the regions, the cause of a high number of forest fires is unknown. Studies into the causes of fire outbreak therefore need to be improved. The classification of forest fires and their origins needs to be standardized, so that different countries can be compared. The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) or the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) could be used to index them.




Extreme Climatic Events

During recent crisis management, the involvement of forest stakeholders (forest cooperatives and forest technicians, etc.) has proved to be efficient when clearing up and restoring forests. The development of contingency plans would help define their roles, how they should cooperate and what procedures they should take, as well as avoid wood prices falling by integrating appropriate measures.



Pests and diseases

The main concerns here are the spread of pests and diseases from country to country, their increasing ability to adapt, and the development of impacts related to global change. Trading in products that are known to pose a risk should be avoided, sanitary controls at borders should be reinforced and forest sector industries encouraged to engage in healthy wood trade.



Game

One of the main challenges of hunting is for stakeholders to agree on their perception of risks ; they therefore need to to engage in dialogue with the use of objective tools and take part in meetings and field visits. There also needs to be a balance of representatives from the forestry sector and hunters taking part in hunting committees.



Soil degradation

The threats, pressures and risks of soil degradation need to be identified in relation to forest management. Tools which could be useful for policy makers include the a methodology for mapping areas identified as being sensitive to soil degradation proposed by the JRC (European Union) and the methodology for mapping the potential risks of erosion proposed by the FORSEE project. Their use would ensure the application of sustainable forestry practices and would encourage activities which have less impact on the soil (e.g., cable logging). Management operations on sensitive soils need to be regulated by eliminating unsustainable practices and incentives in the form of subsidies need to be provided to ensure that sustainable practices are carried out (e.g., Payments for Environmental Services (PES), incentives offered in exchange for an ecological service).

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