Prescribed Burning

Eye in the smoky Sky: Interagency Corporation across disciplines: Fire- and Forest Service, Research, Nature conservation, fire prevention

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Shared knowledge case: Prescribed Burning


Shared Knowledge Case: Eye in the smoky Sky: Interagency Corporation across disciplines: Fire- and Forest Service, Research, Nature conservation, fire prevention

”From a distance the world looks blue and green “( Bette Midler )…….. from a distance the satellites looked at our prescribed burn of 23rd March and from a distance these burns were just little, very little points. On the ground, much closer, it was hot and smoky and an exercise worth sharing.


Some 18 years ago, in 2001, we started the prescribed burning programme with the Federal Forest Service (Lausitz) with the aim to restore and maintain Calluna heathlands in the forest district Zschorno (Natura 2000 site). The central area of this forest district was used as target area for air-to-ground missiles during till 1989 and with no military use and disturbance, the forest succession development endangered the FFH / Natura 2000 status of the sites. To mimic the historic disturbance regime, prescribed fire was introduced and quite successfully so.

Over the years, the annual use of fire created a trustful network and operational group between GFMC, Forest Service, Nature Conservation, Fire Service and visiting scientists that used our burns for their research. With growing sympathy for intentional fire use, the fire service started to use these fires for training purposes.

FireSense 2019 fire

The FireSense project (more information please see below) this year accompanied the burn on 23 March to test and validate an array of sensors used in remote sensing for fire detection, smoke monitoring and biomass estimations. The nature conservation burning had therefore a double purpose and seeing that different agencies across different disciplines worked hand in hand to ignite and hold those burns, I would call this interagency cooperation a third purpose! Due to the low humidity values, the fuel was very flammable and the fire service got actively involved in igniting from wet-line and holding the lines in cooperation with the burn teams. The training of using fire as a tool, be it for burn-out operations or back-burning, fuel load reduction or nature conservation was a great exercise for the fire service and the district chief fire officer (on site for the day!) expressed the need for cooperative sharing and training between forest- and fire service to tackle the expected future fire challenges. Another purpose: capacity building within the forest and the fire service. The fact that the burn sites are now safe and resilient against unwanted and uncontrolled fires for the coming years, serve as safe areas, anchor points and fire breaks tick the box for fire prevention and preparedness purpose. 

Great combination of stakeholders, agencies, science, practice, disciplines and land management objectives indeed!

We burned 3 blocks of 2,2 ha, 4,1 h and 2,5 ha respectively. Relative Humidity was a slow as 40%, Wind up to 35km/h from changing directions, fuel load was estimated over 30 tons per ha. The resulting fire behaviour was impressive, when on the ground and on the fire line. From a distance….these fires were hardly visible. However, our burns were picked up by the ground sensors as well as from space.

Land Owner: 

Burn teams: 

This operation was supported by European Forest Risk Facility partners:

  • Lestech supplied us with Backpack Sprayers and mobile water reservoirs,
  • Vallfirest supported the burn teams with PPE, Gorgui hand tools and fire beaters. 

This support is greatly appreciated!

FireSense Project

The collaboration project FireSense is aiming at developing an improved fire information system to support environmental agencies, protected area management and fire fighter. It includes the assessment of vegetation and peat fires, derivation of trace gas and aerosol emissions and the mapping of burned areas. It integrates sensor derived data from drones, planes or helicopters and satellites with newly developed and substantially improved algorithms. New, scheduled or already orbiting satellite sensors enable essentially improved ways to monitor fires through greater spatial resolution, finer temporal resolution (geostationary satellites) and through a better quantitative characterisation of fire.

FireSense project partners:

Tags: coniferous forests, fire, Innovative, cooperation, interagency



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