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Forestry and fire prevention

Forest fires are becoming increasingly frequent on a global scale. In addition to endangering local populations, forest fires have important consequences on carbon sequestration and thus, on climate change. Globally, it has been estimated that 16% of carbon emissions come from forest fires per year. Moreover, the capacity to assimilate carbon decreases strongly after a forest fire. In Europe, it has been estimated that 10 years after a fire, the capacity of a forest to sequester carbon decreases by about 13 tons per hectare (Hakan Can 2021).

In France, 30% of the territory is covered by forests, i.e. 16 million hectares. Approximately 5.5 million hectares are considered sensitive to forest fires, spread over 6,000 municipalities, mainly in the Mediterranean region. There are about 4000 fire starts and more than 10 000 hectares of forest destroyed per year. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is likely to intensify by 2040, due to the global increase in temperatures and the frequency of extreme events (droughts in particular) due to climate change, thus creating new forest areas subject to this risk.

Various canopy management techniques are currently used to prevent the spread of fire. For example, clearing brush near homes coupled with maintaining open areas (with low vegetation) can reduce fire intensity. To go further, it is possible to plant so-called "passive pyrophyte" plant species, which do not burn very much and reduce the speed of spread of forest fires. Among these species, we can mention the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) or the almond tree (Prunus dulcis). Another advantage of these species is that they can be exploited for their fruits.

At Green PRAXIS, through these preventive measures, we intend to maximize the ecological (protection against fire, maintenance of biodiversity), economic (new agricultural production) and societal (reduced risk to local residents) benefits. Moreover, these preventive measures avoid the re-emission of carbon in the form of smoke and allow the maintenance of the annual sequestration of 1 to 16 tons of CO2 per hectare (varies according to the age, type and health of the forest). And that is precisely what we are all about: identifying and implementing solutions that maximize the generation of ecological and economic value for residents, communities, farmers and insurers.

Hakan Can O. 2021. Smokescreen, the long term impact on forest fires carbon sequestration in Europe. Master's thesis II.



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