It’s time for sharing
In these times of change, of liquid modernity, Earth Observation technologies are already a reality in day-to-day fire and forest management.
The National Plan for Integrated Rural Fire Management (see RCM no. 45-A/2020) states that consensus was reached after the tragic fires that ravaged the country in 2017: the Independent Technical Commission identified systemic weaknesses, some of which are chronic and have been long identified, such as lack of preventative measures or failure to integrate knowledge in the management of operations.
Four years later, there is full awareness of the need for quality information to be updated and broadly available. The actors of the Integrated Rural Fire Management System (SGIFR) also agree that information about the characterization of the territory is crucial to the success of operations.
In these times of change, of liquid modernity, Earth Observation technologies are already a reality in day-to-day fire and forest management. In the near future we can expect that they will gain even greater prominence, significantly improving the efficiency of the entire process chain of the SGIFR. Namely, they will support the planning of fuel management and inspection actions, the monitoring and detection of fires, and the suppression and recovery of burned areas, among other applications.
But the change does not stop at the technological component: the spirit of sharing also gains traction. Public entities of the SGIFR, such as the Directorate General of the Territory and the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere, use data acquired by satellites to produce information and share it openly with the entire community. Having information available is important, but it’s fundamental to develop tools capable of managing this information and transforming it into knowledge accessible to all (public entities and owners). This knowledge-sharing capacity will be an important contribution to fire risk management, as well as optimizing forest management, allowing forest owners to increase income, and thus benefiting the entire value chain.
Information-sharing and collaboration benefit everyone. A close articulation between SGIFR entities, Portugal Space, and the ecosystem and value chain of the space sector in Portugal, will allow the inclusion of new knowledge and the continuous improvement of the quality of information that supports decisions.
Equally important: the visibility that space technologies give to the agroforestry sector may be a way to attract new people with differentiated skills. With rare exceptions, this sector is far from the minds of the youth – but in the future, they are the ones who will need to coexist with fire. They already have an innate taste for technology. If we can bring their awareness to the importance of the forest on a social, ecological and economic level, we will be successful.
As we approach the Christmas season, I leave here a tip to raise awareness among the young ones. Why not start decorating a real fir tree, instead of buying a new plastic tree that must be flown halfway around the world until it reaches our house? There are several local initiatives that provide trees, which are cut in properly planned forestry operations, ultimately benefiting our domestic forests.