The Wildfire Emergency in Chile 2017: The Follow-up Process
Chile, 01-07 April and 2-3 October 2017
Since 2016 the Southern part of the South American continent was affected by a long-lasting drought. In Chile, it was the 8th year of reduced rainfall. In early 2017 large fires affected Argentina and Chile. On 20 January 2071 the Government of Chile declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance to combat wildfires that took place in the regions of Biobio, La Araucania, Los Lagos, Maule, Metropolitana, OHiggins, and Valparaiso regions. The wildfire emergency situation in Chile was monitored and summarized by the GFMC
Chile received assistance from neighboring South American countries, from the U.S.A., Europe, and Russia. The effectiveness and the efficiency of the international assistance, however, was rather limited because there were no agreements, protocols, common SOPs or other informal rules or guidelines in place. This situation has demonstrated need and urgency to take the next steps towards the creation of interoperability between neighboring nations for wildfire crisis management. Common standards for training and firefighting operations are essential for enhancing the preparedness for cooperative safe, effective and efficient wildfire response. The GFMC and the Chilean authorities decided to follow up the First Regional Symposium on Cross-Boundary Cooperation in Fire Management in South America / Primer Simposio Regional de Cooperación en Manejo del Fuego Inter-Fronterizo en Sudamerica (held in Uruguay in May 2016) and to convene a second regional event entitled Second Regional Consultation on Cross-boundary Cooperation in Fire Management in South America. The consultation will be held in Chile, 2-3 October 2017. The results will be presented on this website by mid-October 2017.
In March 2017 the Federal German Ministry for Food and Agriculture, on behalf of the Government of Germany, entrusted the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) to meet with the Chilean agencies concerned with fire management and fire emergency response, to evaluate the wildfire emergency and to identify lessons concerning the effectiveness of international assistance including the use of aerial assets in firefighting. In April 2017 the head of the GFMC met with the heads of the Corporacion Nacional Forestal (CONAF) and the Oficina Nacional de Emergencia del Ministerio del Interior (ONEMI) (Ministerio del Interior y Seguridad Publica), as well as with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Directorate for European Affairs.
Visual Impressions of the Preparatory Mission (Photos by CONAF)
Post-fire damage assessment of areas burned in Lo Chacon, Talami, El Asiento, and at the communities of San Pedro and Alhue (Region Metropolitana) (5 April 2017). The examples of aerial views from the helicopter reconnaissance mission reveal that the wildfires had burned rather intensive and severe, resulting in a high risk of secondary damages (erosion, landslides, flash floods, etc.). The rural settlements and the peri-urban areas around villages and towns were at high risk and affected by the wildfires.
Evaluation of the CONAF fire management teams: CONAF Brigada San Pedro Roble 7
Consultations with CONAF leadership (4 April 2017)
Consultations with ONEMI leadership (4 April 2017)
Draft Objectives of the Second Regional Consultation
By building on the recommendations of Uruguay 2016 and the lessons identified during the wildfire emergency in Chile in 2017 the consultation aims to address:
Review of existing rules and agreements on cross-boundary cooperation in fire management, including bilateral and multilateral cooperation during wildfire emergencies
Discuss the utility and application of voluntary cooperation instruments and legally binding agreements in place in other regions of the world
Develop a proposal for developing a set of guidelines, SOPs and protocols for joint capacity building and enhancement of interoperability in the preparedness of border-crossing cooperation during fire emergencies
Discuss the options to develop binding sub-regional agreements of member countries of MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela), and the Pacto Andino (Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru)
Establishment of a Regional Fire Management Resource Center with two main proposed branches to foster regional capacities in (a) vegetation fire science, education and training, and (b) operational coordination of cross-boundary fire management
Organizers: Host and Supporting Organizations
The consultation will be hosted by the Government of Chile, represented by the Corporacion Nacional Forestal (CONAF) and supported (facilitated) by the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC). Financial sponsorship will be provided by CONAF and the German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL).