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A wildfire risk management concept based on a social-ecological approach in the European Union: Fire Smart Territory

Fantina Tedim, Vittorio Leone, Gavriil Xanthopoulos

The current wildfire policies in European Union countries have not solved the wildfire problem and probably will not be effective in the future, as all the initiatives focus on suppression and minimize the use of fire embedded in the Traditional Ecologic Knowledge of European communities. The traditional fire use as a tool for land management has been handled and almost criminalized by an urban-centric perspective and anti-fire bias. These policies are poorly adapted to, and cannot cope with, the complex nature of the wildfire phenomenon since they neglect its social roots. This paper presents a forward-looking and innovative model of wildfire management focused not at the landscape, or community, or forest level but at the territory scale. Fire Smart Territory (FST) is the proposed theoretical, the context specific, and place-based operational framework. The grounding assumptions of FST are that fire is a dual and ambiguous process, that it is not merely a biophysical process with social overtones but a social process, and it is a complex issue which can be understood only in the coupled human and natural systems where it occurs. FST advocates that the current wildfire challenges cannot be solved by a check list of theoretically adequate procedures, but through locally understanding the wildfire problem and strategically preparing each territory to be less wildfire prone, and its inhabitants to be less vulnerable, and more resilient, in the scope of economic valorization, sustainable development, and safety of the territory resources.

International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Vol. 18 (September 2016), pp. 138-153, 
Key: INRMM:14485293



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