It’s not the heat we want
Summer in Italy means blazing sun, high temperatures and, alas, wildfires. Any newscast or headline cannot help showing images of burning forests. As citizens, we hear over and over again that this will be the coolest summer of our lifetime; in short, forecasters do not expect a cool future.
Those who deal with forests in Italy, have to do more and more with wildfires and the need to curb destructive effects of fire, a fascinating element, but that we would like as far away from our forests as possible. Some might object by saying that fire is an integral and natural element in forest life, but we need to clarify this. At our latitudes, wildfires can be triggered naturally by lightning or volcanic eruptions, and although natural fires can also have disastrous effects, some forest ecosystems have evolved to take advantage from the passage of fire.
What causes forests to burn?
However, wildfires now are not natural or recommended. Man-made action, intentional or deliberate, combined with severe drought, intense wind, and record temperatures result in huge, intense wildfires, often difficult to extinguish. Indeed, the most common causes of the giant headline bushfires can be condensed into a few points:
- Burning of agricultural and forestry plant waste
- Use of agricultural machines or tools that produce sparks and flames
- Lighting fires in equipped (and unequipped) areas
- Parking cars over dry grass or leaves
- Fireworks and lanterns
- Cigarette stubs or lit matches
Even those who are not forestry experts will understand that these factors are intentional, or the result of negligence, but they are manageable. . Despite we could do our part to reduce wildfire causes, our forests keep paying a high price in term of ecosystems and biodiversity loss, along with economic resources. It is worth mentioning that historically in Italy, fires have greater intensity and frequency in some regions of the Mediterranean area, however, the situation is changing. In fact, the number of fires is also increasing in mountain areas, such as the Karst and the high Apennines.
Protect the forests you love with WOWnature
If you’re reading this article, is most likely because you planted or want to plant a tree with WOWnature. What if we’d tell you that from today you can do even more? One of our goal is to support forest managers in researching and implementing measures to protect existing forests. Because of this, we have big news for nature-lovers: from now you can help protecting a forest by countering the threats that affect it! Say illegal cutting, desertification, biodiversity loss, and of course, wildfires. By making a contribution of your choice, you can ease the prevention of these damaging events and ensure that forests grow at their best.
©ansa – 2022
Are you a forest manager? Make sure you follow these good practices
If you own a green area, the most hot times of the year are not the easiest for sure. Therefore, we have outlined some precautions that can make it easier to manage your trees.
Stay up to date
In Italy, wildfires matter is regulated at the regional level, so make sure you know the local norms, specific for the environment in which your wood is growing. Don’t forget to stay updated about the rules of your region, in particular in the hottest months. For example, when it’s time to burn plant residues, avoid the moments when it’s most windy, dry and hot. For further details, check out your regional materials.
Break up vegetation cover
If your wood is wide, consider implement a network of firebreaks to slow down or stop the spread of fires. It could be roads, tracks, small canals that separate woods portions and can save many trees from the flames. Firebreaks are even more useful in case of houses or buildings nearby.
Keep it clean
For once, we’re not referring to For once, we’re not referring to waste. Inside the woods, it’s fundamental to monitor the status of weeds and shrubs and to be sure this vegetation layer is not too dense and continuous. Fewer low-lying plants make it easier to fight the fire, causing it to grow more slowly and not affect the canopies.
Welcome (responsible) tourists
Make sure that your property is safe and complies with fire regulations. Ensure that there is no excess dry grass and low vegetation. In addition, check that people do not throw cigarettes and other trash on the ground. If grilling is allowed, these should be limited to the designated grilling areas, away from vegetation.
You must always be prepared for any situation, so make sure you know where the nearest water source is, and keep firefighting devices close to the area. They will be helpful in containing the fire start and you will prevent large-scale spread.
Following these directions will make it easier to manage your forest, but in case of an emergency call the appropriate authorities:
- 115, Fire Department
- 1515, Wildfire emergency