In large parts of Eurasia the use of fire and other disturbances have contributed to shape landscape patterns of high ecological and cultural diversity and value, e.g. heathlands, open grasslands, meadows, and swidden (shifting) agriculture sites, as well as open and stress-resilient forest ecosystems. The rapid socio-economic changes in the past four decades and the recently increasing trend of rural exodus all over Eurasia, however, have resulted in abandonment of traditional land-use methods. With the elimination of these disturbances by cultivation, including traditional burning practices, large areas of Europe are converting to fallow lands, a process that is associated with ecological succession towards brush cover and forest, and an overall loss of open habitats. Besides the loss of valuable biodiversity the abandoned lands constitute an increase of wildfire hazard – a trend that is revealed by a growing number of extremely severe fire disasters. Similarly, the exclusion of fire in natural ecosystems such as northern boreal and sub-boreal coniferous forests in Eurasia has resulted in changing vegetation composition and an increase of wildfire hazard, notably in Central-Eastern Eurasia. Changing paradigms in ecology and nature conservation currently have led to reconsideration of fire-exclusion policies in certain sectors of land / landscape management, nature conservation and forestry.
The symposium is an activity of the Eurasian Fire in Nature Conservation Network (EFNCN), which has been founded in 2000. EFNCN is facilitated by the Fire Ecology Research Group / Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, c/o Freiburg University / United Nations University, Freiburg, Germany. The Symposium will be organized in close association with the EU FIRE PARADOX project, the EU LIFE Project “Rohrhardsberg, Obere Elz und Wilde Gutach”, the EU Leonardo da Vinci EuroFire project, the UNECE Team of Specialists on Forest Fire, the UNISDR Regional Baltic Wildland Fire Network and the United Nations University (UNU).
The symposium will provide a platform for the exchange of data, expertise, and views of institutions and individuals who are actively applying or conducting research in prescribed burning for the purpose of nature conservation (biodiversity management, habitat management), land and landscape management, and forestry, notably in forest fire management. As the EFNCN is operating at the science-management and science-policy interface, representatives of institutions representing land managers and owners, public services, e.g. fire services, are invited to attend to discuss and share views on professional capacity building in the use of prescribed fire.
Overall, the symposium will support the advancement of the use of prescribed fire in Eurasia; particularly by considering the involvement of local communities in land and fire management.
The region of interest covered by the symposium is temperate-boreal Eurasia with a focus on Europe North of the Alps and the adjoining countries of East / Southeast Europe, Caucasus, Central and Northeast Asia.
Envisaged Outputs of the Symposium
The symposium will include plenary sessions with presentations of project reports and analyses of policies and management strategies, as well as dedicated side events for major projects and other groups.
Among other the desired outputs of the symposium include:
Collate and publish the state-of-the art and expertise in the use of prescribed fire (project reports)
Update the EFNCN database
Prepare a White Paper on the Use of Prescribed Fire in Land Management, Nature Conservation and Forestry in temperate-boreal Eurasia
The attendance at the symposium is by invitation. Invitees are encouraged to submit a title and a half-page abstract of an oral presentation and / or a poster.
All attendees actively working in the use of prescribed fire, either in research or in management application, will receive a template for reporting basic information on prescribed burning sites, aimed at updating the EFNCN database. This database will be shared with the Fire Paradox database.