Declaration on the management of large wildfires in Spain seeks broad support

Promoted by the Pau Costa Foundation, the declaration aims to be a voice of the fire community to demand solutions for safe, living, diverse and resilient landscapes to large wildfires, in the current context of climate change.

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Photo: Pau Costa Foundation

Spain is facing a complex problem that is getting worse every day with climate change: fires are becoming more intense and have unprecedented ecological and social consequences. Examples of this are the great wildfire in Castellón-Teruel at the end of March 2023 or the fires that occurred in the summer of 2022 (Sierra de la Culebra, Navarra, Bejís, Vall d’Ebo and Sierra Calderona).

Based on this observation, the Pau Costa Foundation promoted in early 2023 a process to bring together experts from different sectors of the Forest Fire Community (academics, emergency services, forest managers, communicators, public administration, private companies) to review, update and establish a new common approach that integrates different professional and social visions, for an effective and safe management of forest fires. To this end, the Forum for debate and proposals for action for the management of large forest fires in Spain was held (March 29 and 30, 2023, Madrid), the results of which are the basis of the Declaration on the Management of Large Wildfires in Spain presented on June 15 in Madrid and Barcelona.

Presentation in Barcelona (Montserrat Natural Park). Photo: Pau Costa Foundation.

What are the key points of this Declaration?

The Declaration includes a 15-point proposal that stresses the need to focus on fire risk management (prevention) over extinction. To this end, it points out the need for society to become involved and co-responsible in fire risk management and to assume that it is inevitable to coexist with fire, as an element that is part of our ecosystem. Likewise, it is urged to implement sustainable forest management, taking biodiversity as a priority, and counting on the use of prescribed fire and economic measures that guarantee the development of the rural world.

The provision of rigorous data, as well as dissemination and education, are pointed out as key tools to integrate the urban and rural visions in the face of wildfires and to guarantee the existence of a culture of prevention and self-protection. All this is in accordance with a legislative framework that integrates wildfire management to anticipate, guarantee, and finance that it primarily addresses the preventive management of the territory.

“Any proposal for the management of great wildfires must be based on the scientific data, on the experience of the extinction services, and on the needs of the territory, which are mainly denounced by the actors of the rural world. And that is reflected in the declaration that we have presented. We can affirm that we have a minimum common denominator on key aspects such as the management of forest ecosystems and territorial planning; on measures to have lively rural communities; the uses and ecology of fire; and the importance of education to create resilient and adapted societies”, says Jordi Vendrell, Director of the Pau Costa Foundation.

Open for signatures and endorsement

So far, more than 500 people and 60 institutions have joined and supported the Declaration, including environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and WWF; public departments and organisations such as the Directorate General for Biodiversity, Forests and Desertification of the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, research centres such as the Desertification Research Centre (CSIC-UV-GV) or CREAF, and people from all sectors of the Community of Wildfires.

Adherence to the Declaration can be made through the Pau Costa Foundation’s website to gather support. After the summer, meetings will be organised with national and European leaders to convey the content of the Declaration.

Endorse the Declaration

More information (previous work that led to the Declaration)

You can send your comments/suggestions about the Declaration to info@paucostafoundation.org

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Pau Costa Foundation
The Fire Ecology and Management Foundation Pau Costa Alcubierre (PFC) aims to create knowledge, tools, and techniques for the management of forest fires and to promote research in the field of forest fire ecology in order to disseminate this knowledge to the technical world through training and capacity building.