ITTO Guidelines on Fire Management in Tropical Forests
4. Monitoring and Research
Assessment, prediction, and monitoring of fire risk, as well as a means of quantification of forest fires and other rural fires are prerequisites for fire management planning purposes. Statistical data sets can also be used to gain the attention of authorities, policy makers, and the general public. In the tropics such information is difficult to gather by ground based-methods. Airborne and spaceborne sensors offer possibilities to monitor less accessible and sparsely populated land areas with inadequate ground-based infrastructures.
Recommended Action 9
Seek access to meteorological information from ground stations, and space borne systems; using this information for fire intelligence (fire risk assessment).
Use existing orbital remote sensing systems for fire detection and prediction to obtain real-time information on the geographic location of fires.
ITTO member countries should join others in supporting the development of international mechanisms, (early warning systems), to predict wildfires. Such a system would not predict occurrence, but rather would report the development of conditions which can be counted on to result in serious fires. It would have to gather and interpret information from a number of sources, including satellites, and land-based stations.
Basic scientific and applied research are the fundamental sources of information needed for tropical forest fire management. Research on fire behavior and its impact on ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, atmospheric quality, and local and global climate, as well as evaluation of damages and losses, will help to establish indicators on how to manage fire in various tropical forest ecosystems.
Recommended Action 10
Support universities and research institutions, in cooperation with international partners, to undertake research on tropical forest ecosystems including the following main areas of interest:
Compilation and explanation of the state of the art of fire knowledge on past and present fires (occurrence, and ecological impacts)
Fuel inventory and modeling,
Fire behavior models,
Fire risk indicators,
Fire risk mapping,
Environmental impact models,
Impacts of gaseous and particle emissions of fires on biogeochemical cycles, atmosphere and climate,
Socio-economic aspects of forest fire, and
Rehabilitation of forests damaged by fire.
Study the dynamics of swidden lands and secondary forests, as well as timber and non-timber products, which are used by the local communities and are likely to contribute to the cause of fires.
Establish demonstration modules for non-traditional harvesting of secondary forests with a view to offsetting the pressure exerted by agricultural burning practices.
Establish demonstration practices to offer alternatives for the preparation of agricultural lands other than the burning of felled trees.
Knowledge of forest fires and fire management must be exchanged among forestry and research personnel throughout the world to enhance the coordination and cooperation in forest fire prevention and suppression.
Recommended Action 11
Select and conduct training courses on information exchange methods, such as Internet and other relevant electronic communication systems.
Promote periodical international seminars on forest fire management.