Book review: Post-Fire Management and Restoration of Southern European Forests


Francisco Moreira
Instituto Superior de Agronomia. Tapada da Ajuda, Lisbon, Portugal

Post-Fire Management and Restoration of Southern European Forests. F. Moreira, M. Arianoutsou, P. Corona, J. De las Heras (Eds.). Springer, Managing Forest Ecosystems 24. 329 pp. ISBN 978-94-007-2207-1. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-2208-8.

Book cover

In spite of the huge areas affected by wildfires every year in Europe, the post-fire management of burned areas has been given much less attention than fire management. However, the high relevance of post-fire management has been recognized in several political contexts, such as the EU Forest Action Plan, or a FAO review on international cooperation in fire management, which identifies post-fire rehabilitation and management of invasive species as priority topics for cooperative action (FAO 2006). Though relevant scientific knowledge on these specific topics is available in some countries, mainly of Southern Europe, research innovations have not been sufficiently transferred to the management practice yet, especially at the European level. Recent initiatives consisted of networks of research institutions, such as the PHOENIX Project Centre (www.phoenixefi.org/) created in the frame of the European Forest Institute, and the COST Action FP0701 “Post-Fire Forest Management in Southern Europe” (http://uaeco.biol.uoa.gr/cost/), established in the frame of the European Science Foundation, aiming at gathering research efforts on post-fire management topics and at identifying the best management practices for post-fire ecosystem rehabilitation in Europe. This book has been written in the framework of the PHOENIX and COST initiatives.
Why is this book needed? Firstly, because post-fire management and restoration of burned areas is a relevant topic that has not received much attention in Europe. Secondly, because there is a lack of information on restoration approaches and assessment of currently applied post-fire management practices and techniques for post-fire ecosystem rehabilitation in Europe. Finally, because information on the legal and social implications of wildfires is scarce, and so are the methods for the economic assessment of their impacts.
The main objective of this book is to assemble and disseminate scientifically based decision criteria for post-fire forest management and restoration, by reviewing the results of previous and ongoing scientific research. It aims at transferring this scientific knowledge into management practices, by bridging the gap between science and practice in post-fire management. It covers a wide range of spatial scales, from stand to landscape level planning, thus the main target users of this book include not only forest managers but also landscape managers and policy makers at national and regional levels. In fact, several practices for restoration are implemented on a large landscape scale and go beyond forest policies, stretching to agricultural and socio-economic policies. Nevertheless, the book uses a scientific language and approach that makes it suitable also for a broader audience including scientists, university lecturers and graduate students. It is primarily based on a review of the most relevant scientific literature, but it also includes previously unpublished scientific information, with the aim of offering a timely synthesis and novel elements for guiding research and monitoring programs, management guidelines and policy, concerning the restoration of burned lands. The short term expected result is to increase the scientific basis for undertaking appropriate post-fire management practices in Europe, whereas the long term expected result is to improve our ability to effectively restore burned areas and reduce fire hazard in European forests and landscapes. Although focused on Southern Europe, where fire hazard is currently higher, the outcome is also highly relevant for central and northern European countries as well, as climate change is increasing fire hazard in these regions.
The book begins with an introduction (Chapter 1) where key questions and concepts related to post-fire management are placed. Chapter 2 deals with the relationships between recent land-cover changes and fire regime in Europe. The economic, legal and social aspects of post fire management are considered in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 provides an overview of the fire hazard of different forest types. Chapter 5 addresses the main questions related to the post-fire management, common to all forest types. The last chapters (6-12) present distinctive post-fire management issues related to different forest types in Europe. Following the classification of forest types made by the European Environmental Agency, we focused on relevant fire-affected forest types (serotinous pine forests, non-serotinous pine forests, cork oak forests, other Mediterranean broadleaved forests, forests of exotic species, newly fire affected threatened forest types) and shrublands. These chapters are roughly similar in structure, each including the ecological context, the current post-fire management practices, the main management alternatives, and some relevant post-fire management case studies.

This text has been published at FLAMMA 4(1): 65-66 under a Creative Commons license.

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About Antonio

I am a Biologist (BS in 1996) and PhD in Soil Science (2000), and work teaching and researching at the University of Sevilla (Spain). My on-going work includes the study of soil degradation processes in Mediterranean areas, soil erosion and the impact of wildfires on soils.
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