The first meeting of the Forest Fire Innovation Community (CIIF-Chile) was held in Concepción, which has been classified as the largest community effort seen to date worldwide to address the problem of mega forest fires.
With an investment of 21.5 million euros, and a 4-year work schedule, the goal is to provide the European Union with the capacity to avoid collapse in the face of these new mega-fires, by identifying, developing and deployment of innovative means that promote the integration of landscapes and communities, new technological applications and operational approaches.
This first activity, whose objective was to explain the work methodologies, had the participation of community and regional authorities, representatives of the academy, civil society and forestry companies.
The Governor of the Biobío Region, Rodrigo Díaz, referred to the challenge that this type of disaster poses to the authority. “We have to do something different. Politicians have to listen to the answers to which instances like these arrive. Workshops like these illustrate the political discussion, ”he commented during his presentation.
The perspective of the academy came from the professor and researcher at the University of Chile and the ISCI, Andrés Weintraub, who highlighted the heterogeneity of the group. “There are few places in the world where one can bring together such a diverse and qualified group. We hope to identify among all the things we know are not right, where we want to be, what are the gaps between these two points and what are the actions we must take to solve and reduce them”.
The president of the Chilean Wood Corporation, Juan José Ugarte, highlighted the seriousness of the fires that occurred this year and the need to carry out activities like these, which allow sharing knowledge and arriving at common diagnoses. “Why Chile, because we have experience in fires and natural disasters and we are one of the five countries most affected by climate change,” he said.
Finally, the head of CORMA’s Forest Protection Department, Ramón Figueroa, commented: “We must understand that if we do not work as a team, in an integrated manner, the damage will be much worse. This season there were fires that ran at 18 kilometers per hour and that is something impossible to fight.
The lessons learned after the large forest fires that occurred in the country in 2017, promoted the strengthening of the system and coordination of public and private organizations, which positioned Chile worldwide as a relevant actor in the delivery of knowledge in prevention, combat and control in this type of emergency.
This was one of the reasons why FIRE-RES (Fire Resilience), a project of the European Union (EU) and coordinated by the Center for Forest Science and Technology of Catalonia (CTFC), decided to integrate Chile for the work that they have been developing to deal with forest fires.
The objective of FIRE-RES will be to incorporate in Chile each of the experiences lived by the participants, in order to better prepare communities for mega forest fires, through innovation actions and technologies in emergency management, landscapes, economy, governance, society, communication and risk awareness.
Chile is the only country outside the European Community that is in this project, where 35 institutions from 11 EU countries (Spain, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy) and It has an investment of more than 21.5 million euros for its implementation.
With a four-year agenda, FIRE-RES must provide the EU with information to avoid collapse in the face of megafires, through the identification, development and deployment of innovative means that promote the integration of landscapes and communities, with new technological applications and operational approaches.
In Chile, the institutions in charge of implementing the program in the territory are: the Institute of Complex Engineering Systems (ISCI) of the University of Chile, the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) and the Chilean Wood Corporation (CORMA).