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Forests and fires prevention

Forest fires are becoming increasingly frequent on a global scale. In addition to endangering local populations, forest fires have important consequences for carbon sequestration and therefore for climate change. Globally, it has been estimated that 16% of carbon emissions come from forest fires per year. In addition, the capacity to assimilate carbon decreases sharply 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 4,000 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) caused by climate change, thus creating new forest areas subjected to this risk.

Different canopy management techniques are currently used to prevent the spread of fires. For example, clearing brush near houses coupled with maintaining open areas (with low vegetation) can reduce the intensity of fires. To go further, it is possible to plant so-called "passive pyrophytic" plant species, which burn little and reduce the speed of spread of forest fires. These include the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) and the almond tree (Prunus dulcis). Another advantage of these species is that they can be exploited for their fruit.

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

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



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