The past two years were characterized by deadly wildfires in Southern Europe and an increasing number of wildfires in northern regions. This is a glimpse of what is expected in the future. The European Union assigns a 4 million euro grant to PyroLife, a project in which a new generation of experts will be trained in integrated wildfire management. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) will coordinate the project.
Climate change will increase the risk on wildfires. Not only in Southern Europe, but also in countries where wildfires were traditionally sparse, such as the Netherlands. Attention shifts from fighting and preventing fire to ‘living with fire’, in which resilient landscapes are designed and communities are better prepared for wildfires. The EU-project PyroLife will train a new generation of experts in integral fire management.
Using water management techniques for wildfires
The PyroLife project brings together knowledge from different countries, scientific disciplines and practices. Southern European leadership in fire expertise will be used to understand and predict wildfires in Northern Europe, whilst Northern European lessons learned in the prevention of floods will be applied in Southern Europe. Dr. Cathelijne Stoof is PyroLife coordinator and will lead the project. “The Dutch are world famous for the way in which they manage and live with water,” she says. “By working with experts on water management and landscape architects, we will use their knowledge to design resilient landscapes and prepare communities to live with fire.”
PyroLife provides 15 PhD candidates. The project is the first large and integrated doctoral training programme on wildfires globally. WUR will offer four PhD positions on: the effects of wildfires and ashes on soil and water quality, designing landscapes adapted to the increasing risk on wildfires, and applying Dutch knowledge in water management (prevention and the widely-known ‘poldermodel’) to ‘living with fire’.
Large European consortium
PyroLife is funded by the prestigious Marie-Curie Action within the European Horizon2020 programme. WUR will lead a consortium of 10 leading European universities and institutes. All PhD candidates will receive training of 21 international partners, including governments, fire services, business and non-profit agencies. An overview of the full consortium is given below.