{{ 'Go back' | translate}}
Njus logo

Forestry news | Njus International

Plan to Slow Western Wildfires Would Clear Strips of Land

Forestry Voice of America

Trump administration plan would bulldoze, mow or revegetate large swaths of land along 11,000 miles of terrain in the West; not everyone is impressed
'SALT LAKE CITY — The Trump administration is proposing an ambitious plan to slow Western wildfires by bulldozing, mowing or revegetating large swaths of land along 11,000 miles (17,700 kilometers) of terrain in the West.    The plan that was announced this summer and presented at public open houses, including one in Salt Lake City this week, would create strips of land known ``fuel breaks'' on about 1,000 square miles (2,700 square kilometers) managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in an area known as the Great Basin in parts of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.      The estimated cost would be about $55 million to $192 million, a wide range that illustrates the variance in costs for the different types of fuel breaks. Some would completely clear lands, others would mow down vegetation and a third method would replant the area with more fire-resistant vegetation.      It would cost another $18 million to $107 million each year to maintain the strips and ensure vegetation doesn't regrow on the strips.    Wildfire experts say the program could help slow fires, but it won't help in the most extreme fires that can jump these strips. The breaks could also fragment wildlife habitat.      An environmental group calls it an ill-conceived and expensive plan that has no scientific backing to show it will work.      FILE - Smoke from wildfires rises from a hillside near power lines outside Azusa, Calif., June 20, 2016. A U.S. Geological Survey report issued last year found that fuel breaks could be an important tool to reduce damage caused by wildfires, but the agency cautioned that no scientific studies have been done to prove their effectiveness and that they could alter habitat for sagebrush plants and animal communities.      The Bureau of Land Management says it has done about 1,200 assessments of fuel breaks since 2002 and found they help control fires about 80 percent of the time.      The strips of land that would be 500 feet or less would be created along highways, rural roads and other areas already disturbed, such as rights of way for pipelines, said Marlo Draper, the Bureau of Land Management's supervisory project manager for the Idaho Great Basin team.   Should cut costs    They won't prevent fires, but they should reduce the costs of having to battle major blazes because fuel breaks reduce the intensity, flame length and spread of fires and keep firefighters safer, Draper said.      It cost about $373 million over the last decade to fight 21 fires that were larger than 156 square miles (404 square kilometers) on lands managed by the bureau in Utah, Nevada and Idaho, according to a report explaining the proposal.      ``It gives us a chance to get in front of it and put fires out more quickly,'' Draper said.      Western wildfires have grown more lethal because of extreme drought and heat associated with climate change, and because housing developments have encroached on the most fire-prone grasslands and brushy canyons. Many of the ranchers and farmers who once managed those landscapes are gone, leaving terrain thick with vegetation that can explode into flames.      The proposal is out for public comment and pending environmental review. If approved, some of the land could be cleared as soon as next year while other projects could take several years, she said.      The plan comes after President Donald Trump last December issued an executive order calling on the Interior Department to prioritize reducing wildfire risks on public lands.      This proposal doesn't include U.S. National Forest Service lands. Most states have their own plans for fire prevention, which sometimes include thinning of forests.      FILE - Firefighters create a firebreak near a home in Middletown, Calif., Sept. 13, 2015. Fuel breaks are a useful tool if used with other wildfire prevention methods that can keep firefighters safer and potentially help in broad expanses of land because they are long and thin, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, the area fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. They can especially helpful by providing perimeters for prescribed burns. But they must be in the right places, and they don't stop fires, she said.      David Peterson, an ecology professor at the University of Washington and former federal research scientist, said the plan will likely produce mixed success in slowing down fires. But he said the plan will not help with extreme fires that produce embers and flames that jump over fire breaks. He said the risk of fragmenting important habitat and harming animals like sage grouse is real.   'Long-term' funding    The U.S. government must also be committed to the chore of maintaining the areas or the plan won't help and could open the door for more cheatgrass to grow in, which fuels fires.      ``We are buying into a long-term commitment of funding,'' Peterson said.      Patrick Donnelly, the Center for Biological Diversity's Nevada state director, said the plan could break up habitat for sage grouse, deer and the Pygmy rabbit. He said the money would be better spent planting native seed and sagebrush to get rid of non-native plants that make fires worse.    ``This seems like the Interior is trying to demonstrate they are doing something, and they want something that is impressive to people, like: `Look at us, we've bulldozed 11,000 miles of desert,' '' Donnelly said. ``Ultimately, this is a misguided effort.'''

Helsinki-based CollectiveCrunch raises €600k for its forest inventory prediction platform

Forestry EU-Startups

Finland is a land of forests, covering up to 75% of the country. Naturally, forestry is a major industry – but resources are hard to measure. Helsinki-based forestry tech startup CollectiveCrunch is bringing new solutions to the sector, and has just
'Finland is a land of forests, covering up to 75% of the country. Naturally, forestry is a major industry – but resources are hard to measure. Helsinki-based forestry tech startup  CollectiveCrunch  is bringing new solutions to the sector, and has just raised a €600k funding round led by Thominvest . Existing and new angel investors also participated in the round. CollectiveCrunch will use the funds to finalize and launch the first commercial version of its Linda Forest platform in the second half of 2019. Thominvest has a solid background in forestry, and so intimately understands the value CollectiveCrunch brings to the market. The startup uses AI to assess data from multiple sources – such as optical satellite images, Lidar, and wood processing – to predict forest inventory more accurately than existing conventional methods. This helps landowners to more accurately assess and manage their forestry inventory, and buyers of wood resources to target the wood they actually need. “We are following developments in AI closely and have been aware of CollectiveCrunch since 2017,”  said Thominvest Group’s Mats Söderström.  “CollectiveCrunch is focused on the forestry industry and we were convinced by the team’s capabilities and the commercial progress they have made in the last quarters.” CollectiveCrunch’s Linda Forest AI platform utilizes climate, geo, and customer process data to arrive at better predictions of wood mass and forest inventory. The solution lets foresters know the volumes and species of wood they have on their land without having to drive out for inspection. “The funds raised in this round are essential in building the team and technical capabilities to fulfill our ambition of becoming a global leader in AI for the forestry industry,”  said CollectiveCrunch CEO Rolf Schmitz. The closure of this latest €600k round brings the company’s total funding to €1 million. The round follows a recently announced  multi-year partnership  with Finland’s  Metsähallitus Forestry Ltd.  that aims to improve harvesting and forest development planning. The company has offices in Helsinki, Berlin, and Munich, and forestry customers in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and Brazil.'

More Megacities, More Pressure on Forests

Forestry Inter Press Service

With two-thirds of the world’s population projected to be living in cities by 2050, increasing pressure continues to be placed on forests which are being cleared to make way for agricultural production.
'While there were just 10 megacities worldwide in 1990, this number has tripled to 33, with populations of more than 10 million people.The number of megacities is expected to rise to 43 by 2030, mostly in developing countries.Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS By Desmond Brown ANKARA, Jun 20 2019 (IPS) With two-thirds of the world’s population projected to be living in cities by 2050, increasing pressure continues to be placed on forests which are being cleared to make way for agricultural production.China, India and Nigeria are set to drive a surge in urbanisation, with the percentage of the global population living in urban areas increasing from around 55 percent currently, to 68 percent in the coming decades, according to United Nations figures.Luc Gnacadia, former Minister of Environment of Benin and former Executive Secretary of the U.N.Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) says as more people move to cities – where incomes and rates of consumption are generally higher – more pressure is put on forests to produce more animal and processed food products, which require more clearing. “The system that we have, that is mining natural resources, using it for consumption patterns that are wasteful, that system is still in play,” Gnacadia told IPS on the sidelines of the International Soil Congress in Turkey, which ended Jun. 19. “It is less people producing more for cities, which means that they may be just mining the soil, mining the forest and causing us to be more and more vulnerable to climatic shocks and contributing to it.” Gnacadia said forests are being lost because of what he described as the misuse of land in agriculture.He said agricultural expansion globally is taking place by encroaching on existing pristine ecosystems, including forests.Luc Gnacadia, former Minister of Environment of Benin and former Executive Secretary of the U.N.Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) says as more people move to cities – where incomes and rates of consumption are generally higher – more pressure is put on forests to produce more animal and processed food products, which require more clearing.Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the U.N. said on Tuesday that expanding plantation and sprawling urban areas are placing greater pressure on forests and resources, hurting rural communities and exacerbating the effects of climate change. “If we want less of this, we must first consider the land potential and clearing capacity; what can the land be used for must be clearly identified before we make decisions,” Gnacadia said. “When we use the land for agriculture, we must clearly map the land and identify where the land is in good health and make sure that we avoid degradation.Whatever we do must have one aim.We use the land but we make sure that we do not lose its productivity, and we do not deplete all of its nutrients. “For the lands that are experiencing some degradation, we must make that we do whatever we can to reduce it . . . you must assess if there’s still, in socio-economic terms, potential for restoring it, bringing it back to life.If it is, then you have to do it.” While there were just 10 megacities worldwide in 1990, this number has tripled to 33, with populations of more than 10 million people.The number of megacities is expected to rise to 43 by 2030, mostly in developing countries.Tokyo is the world’s largest city with a population of approximately 37 million people, followed by New Delhi with around 29 million and Shanghai with 26 million.However, India’s capital is forecast to surpass Japan’s most populous area by 2028.UNCCD-Science Policy Interface co-chair Dr.Mariam Akhtar-Schuster says countries need to put in place an integrated land use planning mechanism to be able to satisfy the demands and needs of households, and at the same time sustainably manage and conserve the natural environment “We have to consider that urban people also have a demand for firewood, cooking wood and construction material.These are all taken from forests,” Akhtar-Schuster told IPS. “If an unregulated expansion of urban areas takes place then nearby forests will be affected, but even if forests are not logged for housing, they are a source for firewood, for cooking and this can lead to an immense degradation process.” Akhtar-Schuster stressed that it is a governance issue and “you have to create procedures and regulations, how much wood is allowed to be taken out of forests and how far forests control mechanisms have to be in place to avoid illegal logging and the removal of wood for daily demand.” Urban planning should also consider that infrastructure for energy is needed, Akhtar-Schuster said, adding that forests are very vulnerable to human use and this needs to be taken care of. “I am not saying that forests should not be used, but they have to be used sustainably and that means you have to put in a lot of regulations especially is urban expansion takes place,” Akhtar-Schuster said. “It takes years and years and years until a small sapling turns into a real big tree and this time dimension needs to be considered in any planning.You have to have a very long vision if you want to manage your forests sustainably and you will always have to check the condition whether there’s a natural rejuvenation of forests taking place, you will have to check that the age structure of forests close to urban areas always remains healthy.” Global demand for commodities like rubber and palm oil have driven changes in land use, especially in countries such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, where governments have granted businesses leases and land concessions to boost their economies.Related Articles Desertification ‘More Dangerous and More Insidious than Wars’ ‘What it Takes to Feed 7.5 Billion People’ There’s No Continent, No Country Not Impacted by Land Degradation . The post More Megacities, More Pressure on Forests appeared first on Inter Press Service .'