(IFFN No. 11 – July 1994, pp. 27-29)

One of the resolutions arising from the 1988 Conferenceon Bushfire Modelling and Fire Danger Rating Systems[1],as proposed by B.J. Stocks of the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) (formerlyForestry Canada), involved the idea of an international Memorandum ofUnderstanding (MOU) as follows:

“Thatthe time is opportune for the development of a Memorandum of Understandingbetween Australia, Canada and the United States on fire danger rating and firebehaviour modelling. Decreasing fire research resources in each country, coupledwith the fact that the combining of empirical and physical modelling approachesis now seen as necessary, are strong reasons why an MOU that would facilitateco-operation and scientific exchange on a formal and consistent basis isnecessary”.

As the “wordsmiths” of the original draftagreement, we are happy to report that this proposal has now become a reality. Acomplete copy of the agreement as signed by representatives of Australia, Canadaand the United States is included here in the following three pages. Thecontributions of D.E. Dubé and B.J. Stocks of the CFS, M.A. Fosberg and W.T.Sommers of the USDA Forest Service, and N.P. Cheney of Australia’s CSIRODivision of Forestry are hereby acknowledged.

W. Lachlan McCaw                                                                           and
Department of Conservation and Land Management
Science and Information Division
Research Centre
Brain Street
AUS – Manjimup, Western Australia 6258

Phone:++61-97-711-988 Martin E. Alexander
Canadian Forest Service
Northwest Region
Northern Forestry Centre
5320 – 122 Street
CDN – Edmonton, Alberta T6H 3S5







                 The Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technological 
Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Development (1982)
                 The Department of Agriculture of the United States of America
                 The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization,Australia
                 The Memorandum of Understanding (1990)
The United States Department of Agriculture 
           ForestryCanada on Cooperation in the field of forestry-related programs


Cooperation between Australia, Canada and the UnitedStates in areas of wildland fire science research was initiated formally in July1988 at the conference on Bushfire Modelling and Fire Danger Rating Systems heldin Canberra. Subsequent discussions took place between Canadian and UnitedStates representatives in Ottawa in 1989, and between representatives of allthree parties in Missoula in 1991. As a result of these discussions, it wasaccepted that collaborative wildland fire research, conducted under the auspicesof The Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technological Cooperationin Agricultural Research and Development (1982) between the Department ofAgriculture of the United States and The Commonwealth Scientific and IndustrialResearch Organization, Australia and the Memorandum of Understanding (1990)between the United States Department of Agriculture and Forestry Canada, wouldbe beneficial.

There are sound reasons for seeking to maintain andexpand research into wildland fire science. Knowledge gained through research isfundamental to an understanding of the role of fire in wildland ecosystemprocesses such as plant community response and nutrient dynamics. Objectiveinformation on fire characteristics is an important input into economic analysesof the costs and benefits of fire management programs. The success of communityfire prevention programs may also be largely dependent on the adequacy ofpredictive models employed for fire danger rating, and on the accuracy of fireweather forecasts. Fire behaviour prediction systems and burning prescriptionsare required by the agencies responsible for implementing wildland firemanagement programs.

In addition, a number of nations that lack anindependent fire research capability have adopted fire danger rating and firebehaviour prediction systems developed in Australia, Canada or the United States.Successful application of these systems in practice depends upon initialselection of an appropriate system, provision of suitable data, and correctinterpretation of outputs in the context of local conditions. Description ofthis collaborative research in this document will provide a forum to facilitatethe consistent application of fire management support systems by other nations.

The fact that resources available for wildland fireresearch are tending to decline, together with the perceived advantages ofcombining the empirical and physical approaches to modelling, are strongarguments in favour of scientific cooperation and exchange on a formal, ongoingbasis.


Objective of Project Area Description for Work onWildland Fire Science 

The objective of this document is to elucidate possibleproject developments for cooperation, scientific exchange and collaborativeresearch into wildland fire science between Australia, Canada and the UnitedStates — under the existing Memoranda of Understanding cited above.


Activities Within the Scope of Cooperation, ScientificExchange, and Research

The following types of activities willbe considered within the scope of cooperation, scientific exchange, and researchin wildland fire science:

 –         exchange of personnel and equipment for participationin experimental programs, either field or laboratory based;

–         exchange of data from field or laboratory studies;

–         organization of workshops on issues of relevance to theparticipating countries;

–         provision of support to visiting researchers;

–         notification, in advance, of comprehensive orspecial fire experiments which international observers might wish to attend.


Benefit of Collaborative Work on Wildland Fire Science 

Benefits resulting from collaborative work on wildlandfire science include:

–         opportunities to optimize the allocation of researchresources in areas of common interest such as fundamental combustion processes,fire meteorology, smoke management, fire spread data for key fuel types (e.g.,grassland, pine plantation), prescribed fire ignition patterns, relationshipsbetween fire characteristics and effects, and studies of suppressioneffectiveness in relation to fire behaviour;

–         maintenance of consistent scientific standards for datacollection, storage and communication;

–         opportunities for more rapid adoption of new technologyimplementation of research findings in practice;

–         provision of a formal basis to applications for fundingsupport for collaborative projects.


Principles for Operation Under the Auspices of ExistingMemoranda of Understanding

–         Collaborative work on wildland fire science will becoordinated by designated representatives from each country, as nominated by thesignatory organizations.

–         Signatories are not necessarily obliged to supportactivities undertaken under the auspices of this project area description.

–         Detailed letters of understanding will be drawn up tocover the operation of individual projects, including the exchange of data andformal publication of results.

–         Designated representatives will meet periodically tocoordinate work plans covered under this project area description.

–         This project area description will not affect theoperation of any other arrangement entered into by the parties involved.

–         This project area description may be amended,supplemented and extended to at any time, by mutual  written concurrence of all parties.

–         The intent for collaborative work in areas of wildlandfire science between the United States, Australia, and Canada under the auspicesof existing Memoranda of Understanding will enter in effect upon signature bythe authorized representatives of all parties and will remain in effect unlessterminated by any party upon 6 months written notice. In the event oftermination, all parties will consult about completion of activities underway.

–         In accordance with appropriate financial and budgetaryprocesses, all parties will bear the costs of its participation and that of itspersonnel in cooperative activities unless the parties agree on otherarrangements. Activities pursuant to project area description and intent forcollaborative work in areas of wildland fire sciences are subject to theavailability of appropriate funds and personnel.


Existing Understandings and Agreements 

Nothing in this Project area Description will beinterpreted to prejudice or modify existing understandings or agreements betweenthe Parties.

The Tripartite Agreement wassigned in Canberra, 1 October 1993, by G.A. Kile (Chief, CSIRO Division ofForestry), J.C. Mercier (Deputy Minister, Forestry Canada), and J.A. Sesco (DeputyChief, Research, USDA Forest Service, for the United States Department ofAgriculture)


 [1] Cheney, N.P.; Gill, A.M. (editors). 1991. Conference on Bushfire Modelling and Fire Danger Rating Systems Proceedings (11-12 July 1988, Canberra, Australia). CSIRO Division of Forestry, Yarralumla, ACT, Australia. [see notice in International Forest Fire News No. 6, pages 30-31]

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