• Wyss Academy

Forest fire management on the northern side of the Alps

BERN HUB | Project AWN-1




Our goal:

Our aim is to aid the Canton of Bern in creating a comprehensive, climate change-adapted risk management system to prevent and control forest fires.



As a result of climate change, larger forest fires are expected to occur with greater frequency. Photo: Amt für Wald und Naturgefahren AWN (Office for Forestry and Natural Hazards)


In a nutshell:

Larger forest fires have been a relatively rare occurrence on the northern side of the Alps. As a result of climate change, however, they are expected to occur with greater frequency. The Wyss Academy for Nature and the Office for Forests and Natural Hazards of the Canton of Bern are investigating how the danger and risk of forest fires on the northern side of the Alps will evolve over the medium and long term. They are also examining how the responsible agencies can respond efficiently to the growing risk of forest fires. For the preventative management of future forest fire risks, project participants will develop knowledge and tools to curb and fight such fires. To mitigate the impacts of forest fires on land use, biodiversity loss, and natural disaster management, they will draw on experiences and knowledge from regions on the southern side of the Alps and in the Mediterranean, and adapt them to the specific conditions found in the canton of Bern. In the current phase lasting until 2023, the focus is mainly on establishing the knowledge base. In the second phase starting in 2024, specific methods and tools will be developed, tested, and put into practice.


The following issues will be examined:


  • The “Forest” module will focus on investigating the vulnerability, fire behavior, and resilience of the main forest ecosystems in the canton of Bern and on the northern side of the Alps. The dynamics of forest stands after a fire, as well as the erosion or landslide susceptibility on forest fire areas will be studied as well.

  • The “Danger and Risk” module will focus on development of a new method. This new method will serve as a basis for hazard assessment and risk classification for the entire canton and the northern side of the Alps.

  • In the module “Perception and Communication”, the perception of dangers and risk behavior of different target groups will be investigated. Existing tools and preventive measures of the canton (trainings, ongoing hazard assessment, public engagement, fire bans) will be evaluated in an effort to optimize prevention and targeted group-specific communication.


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Knowing the fire susceptibility, behavior, and resilience of forest groupings on the northern side of the Alps is crucial to comprehensive forest fire risk management in the canton of Bern. Photo: Amt für Wald und Naturgefahren AWN (Office for Forestry and Natural Hazards)


 

In collaboration with:

Amt für Wald und Naturgefahren AWN (Office for Forestry and Natural Hazards)