Final meeting of the REMAS project discussed solutions for emission risk management after the fires

On the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of September, the team of Loulé that is part of the REMAS project (INTERREG – SUDOE) was in the Spanish city of Valencia, to participate in the final technical meeting. The creation of a risk model of greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires, which can support administrations in decision-making and integrate land planning and management instruments, is the most evident aspect of the work held since 2019, and which tried to analyse and respond to the functioning of carbon pools in the vegetation and soils of the most representative forest ecosystems in Southwest Europe.

Scholars, researchers and forestry technicians from Portugal (Loulé), Spain and France met to share and discuss the results of studies carried out in the last three years on managing the risk of greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires. On the other hand, a model was presented, which can be an important support tool for administrations to define the risk of emissions in forest ecosystems in case of fire, as well as to prioritize prevention actions.

The first day of the meeting was marked by the presentation of conclusions by each of the partners, and in the second day the teams visited one of the monitored plots in the study area. In Chelva, on the outskirts of the city of Valencia, the fires burned 20,945 hectares of forest in 2012. Here, as in the other study areas – Serra do Caldeirão, Guadalajara (Spain) and Aquitaine (France), analyses and measurement of carbon pools after the fires were carried out, according to the type of management. The results of monitoring the carbon pool in the last two years were evaluated. In the study, the carbon stored in the soil and vegetation was quantified, and the risk of CO2 and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere that would be caused in case of a rural fire was calculated, taking into account factors such as the severity and duration of the fire.

In this final phase of the project, the objective is now to promote and give visibility to the results and expose the methodologies, the action protocol, the transnational action plan and the model developed. Consequently, a period is started in which online training will be promoted for technicians on these matters and which will allow the model to be disseminated, with the aim of optimising territorial and environmental management.

Although this was the last monitoring meeting, the project will conclude its actions with an event to communicate the results, which will take place on December 14th, in Lisbon, at the Higher Institute of Agronomy (one of the project partners).

According to the team from the Municipality of Loulé coordinated by the Forestry Technical Office, which has been following the process, “despite the fact that the perspective has been very ambitious for the three years, even because COVID-19 has delayed the planned actions, the balance of this project is extremely positive”. “It was a fruitful experience, not only because of the intense exchange of learning, but above all because of the technical knowledge acquired in this process, which will greatly benefit our region. We now have a model that is available to any entity, not just the Municipality of Loulé, and which could be important to consider in the land management instruments that may be outlined”, say the team's leaders.

Rebeca Aleix Amurrio, from the AMUFOR, points out: “In October 2019, REMAS started with a lot of emotion and commitment; today, at the end of September 2022, we ended the last monitoring meeting not only with emotion and commitment, but also with admiration, pride of each challenge overcome, of the experience we added to each member of the great team we formed. The inclusion of the risk of greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires in planning instruments and sustainable forest management strategies is, undoubtedly, a primordial element in our contribution to the mitigation of climate change. The first phase of REMAS will end in December 2022, but we hope that the work hold in these three years will continue to make it possible to extend the study time for forest ecosystems that require a longer study period”.

The REMAS project is financed by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Approved in June 2019, it is led by the Association of Forest Municipalities of the Valencian Community (AMUFOR) and has prestigious partners such as the Polytechnic University of Valencia, the University of Valencia, the Provincial Council of Valencia, the National Institute for Agricultural Research and Technology and Food, the Municipality of Loulé, the Higher Institute of Agronomy, the National Higher School of Agricultural Sciences in Bordeaux.