The Climate Change and Forest Fires in Europe conference, co-organised by ELO in Brussels on March 20th 2019 was a stark reminder of why projects like InnoForESt are so important. The event was moderated by Inazio Martinez de Arano, head of EFI-MED office and had speakers from the public sector, private sector, NGOs, and directors from DG CLIMA, ENV, RTD, AGRI, and ECHO. These speakers addressed several of the same topics that InnoForESt seeks to answer, notably understanding novel success factors and business models, provisioning of policy and business recommendations, as well as upgrading, upscaling, and mainstreaming.
One notable speaker was John Bell, Director DG RTD, who explained that “we’ve reached the limits of suppression” and instead we have to work on strategies and policies to figure out how to get people access to the solutions. This echoes the sentiment of InnoForESt, which focuses on taking innovative policies and sharing that information with stakeholders. It is not enough to have practical solutions; rather, these ideas need to be disseminated and put into use.
Another speaker, Johannes Luchner, DG ECHO, discussed how important it is to coordinate forest fire prevention on both a national as well as an international/EU level. This lines up quite well with InnoForESt’s goal of forming “regional, national, and European network initiatives.” It is vital to coordinate and ensure that member states will assist each other.
There were interesting perspectives from the private sector as well. Pedro Vieira, from Compta Emerging Business, presented innovative tools and devices that help detect forest fires from as far as 15km, using various new technologies, including optical spectrometry and thermal detection. With these devices, and advanced computing, fires are able to be detected like never before.
These presenters and all the other speakers each shared great ideas and ways to help protect forests, however, they all reiterated that prevention is the best method. We are living in a time when climate change is a global certainty and our forests become more in risk every day.