1 PhD Studentship

The call will open on 31 January 2024. The link to apply will be posted in due course. Please read below for preliminary information on the call.

Deadline: 2 March 2024

Start date: 1 November 2024

The University of Turin is seeking to appoint one fully funded PhD Student for the Politics of Wildfire (FIREPOL) project. The student will be enrolled in the PhD Programme in Urban and Regional Development (URD) at the Polytechnic University of Turin.

FIREPOL is a five-year, €1.5 million project funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, based within the Inter-university Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST) at the University and Polytechnic of Turin.

The FIREPOL project will deliver a cross-continental study of the political drivers of wildfires in the Global South. Through a multi-methods approach and a comparative perspective, FIREPOL combines and analyses newly compiled fire policy and remote sensing data with qualitative case studies and ethnographic research. The aim will be to understand and explain how a range of political factors (policies, power dynamics, social contention etc.) shape the geographical distribution and impact of wildfires, and public narratives about them.

FIREPOL will rely on a multidisciplinary team composed of researchers and admin staff with different expertise. We are currently looking for one PhD student to joint the team.

Featured image by zm_photo – stock.adobe.com

Europe is ready to harness innovative solutions to address Extreme Wildfire Events

Originally published on FIRE-RES News.

The Open Innovation Challenge initiated by the FIRE-RES project calls for applications that help address key challenges before, during and after large-scale wildfires increasingly faced by landscapes across Europe and the communities that live there.

Connecting the dots: from suppression to resilience

Europe is facing an ever-growing number of extreme wildfires, often with devastating consequences for people and the environment. According to the European Forest Fire Information System, 2021 was the second-worst wildfire season in the European Union since 2000, when EFFIS records began. In that year, an area of 500.566ha was burnt in the EU27 and 417.807ha in other European countries. These fires no longer affect only or mainly southern Europe, but also central European and Nordic countries. For instance, 22 out of the 27 EU member states were affected.

The underlying causes of these fires and their devastating impacts – such as climate change, urbanisation and changing consumption patterns (driven by both tertiarisation and globalisation) – are here to stay. They highlight the limits of long-standing suppression-centred fire management strategies. That’s why practitioners, researchers, and policymakers increasingly recognise the need to develop novel approaches that expand the scope of work in this field.

Such innovative solutions need to understand that the landscapes at risk are not just physical assets such as forests and human homes or infrastructure. They consist of a multitude of ecological and social component parts and processes, whose resilience to the risk of fire needs to be improved.

The risk of wildfires consists not only of the hazard itself, and not even only of a combination of the hazard and exposure to it, but it lies at the intersection of hazard, exposure and vulnerability to both. Thus, vulnerability is a key consideration in continuously managing the challenge of fire – before, during and after the event.

To reduce landscapes’ and communities’ vulnerability to fire, all of society needs to work together to connect the dots. The root causes of fire need to be addressed through prevention, and effective preparation activities need to be devised. Its impacts need to be softened by fostering adaptation and ensuring recovery. All this needs to happen alongside the development of a more nuanced approach to managing wildfires rather than simply attempting to suppress them.

For, while the aim of suppressing, say, 98% of all ignitions seems, at face value, like a worthwhile endeavour, it is important to remember that a mere 2% of ignitions account for about 80% of the damage caused by wildland fires. Not to mention that successful suppression leads to a build-up of fuel loads for future fires!

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge now open

The Open Innovation Challenge is open to innovators, be they individuals, teams or companies of all sizes. It is seeking innovative solutions of all kinds, for instance, technological, social or business-related: products, services, platforms, processes, procedures, best practices, etc. Solutions at all development stages are welcome, from early ideas, methods, and prototypes to close-to-market or market-ready services and products.

Eleven multi-stakeholder Living Labs across Europe have identified the most pressing challenges for increased resilience. They are grouped around seven themes: ‘Risk Communication and Awareness’, ‘Engagement and Empowerment’, ‘Training and Education’, ‘Management Before, During and After Extreme Wildfire Events’, ‘Monitoring’, ‘Forecasting and Decision Support’, and ‘Policy and Governance’.

Successful applicants with early-stage solutions, such as ideas, will be supported to develop their solutions. Later-stage solutions, such as prototypes, close-to-market, or market-ready solutions, will be supported to demonstrate, pilot and upscale their solutions. This will include brokerage of on-the-ground contacts and testing of solutions’ feasibility in the realistic contexts of the Living Labs. Successful applicants will receive mentoring and in-kind support. In addition, individual entries may be eligible for up to €5.000 for demonstration activities and up to €16.000 for piloting activities.

The FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge is open until 19 November 2023.

More information
Full details of the FIRE-RES Open Innovation Competition
Living Labs involved in identifying key challenges caused by fire

Featured image: ISPI

Hybrid seminar: Fire Safety of timber – burnout and structural performance

Fire safety of timber

Are you a structural or fire engineer working with or interested in learning more about load-bearing timber structures? Want to delve into key considerations for their design and the interaction between fire and structures? Then our upcoming hybrid seminar is just what you need!

The seminar is conducted primarily in English and speakers include Angus Law from The University of Edinburgh, Gustav Lanng Madsen and Bo Pedersen from Artelia, Daniel Brandon from RISE and Ian Pope from DBI.

​We present key findings from recent research on the performance of timber structures in ‘natural’ fires, covering topics such as design for burnout and considerations for the decay phase of a fire. We also focus on the documentation of non-compliant timber construction in Denmark concerning structures and fire. We explore possibilities, provide examples, and highlight important aspects to consider.

​We look forward to your participation, whether you join us in person or virtually.

Target group

The hybrid meeting is aimed at structural and fire engineers who work with, or are interested in learning more about, load-bearing timber structures and considerations in relation to their design – including the interaction and interfaces between fire and structures.

Learn more and register here.

Woodworking industries in European regions: LIGNA 23 workshop insights

On 18 May 2023, the Bioregions Facility hosted a workshop called Woodworking Industries in European Regions: Current Situation, Development Pathways and Investment Trends at LIGNA 2023 in Hanover, Germany.

Oskar Azkarate, Baskegur, at LIGNA 2023.

The General Director of Baskegur, Oskar Azkarate, emphasised the significance of a regional bioeconomy strategy, such as the Strategic Plan for Timber in the Basque Country (PEMA in Spanish) and Basque Circular Forest-based Bioeconomy Strategy. These initiatives aim to establish a comprehensive framework for advancing forestry in the region. To illustrate, the Basque Country Forest Bioeconomy Profile developed by the Bioregions Facility provides an overview of the regional bioeconomy innovation ecosystem in the Basque Country.

Next, Martin Schwarz from Wald und Holz in North Rhine-Westphalia shared his insights. In a region with a population of approximately 18 million, wood serves as the primary construction material. With the growing need for housing and apartments in urban areas, there has been a rising demand for wooden materials in urban construction, building modernisation, refurbishment and social housing projects. The legislation now permits wooden multi-storey buildings of up to eight stories, essential for promoting sustainable development in the construction sector and reducing carbon footprint.

Developing a bioeconomy strategy and the support provided by municipalities in utilising wood is essential for the forestry sector. However, the question arises: how can we give timber a higher value? Inazio Martinez, a researcher at EFI and coordinator of the Bioregions Facility, asked Manuel García Barbero, an architect and Wood Construction Manager at CESEFOR, regarding Castilla y Léon’s approach to increasing the value of its timber.

Inazio Martinez, Bioregions Facility, and Manuel García Barbero, CESEFOR, at LIGNA 2023

“In Spain, we have forest fires, and the problem is probably the abandonment of forests. It’s been demonstrated that things that are valued are better cared for,” stated Mr Barbero. While many believe forests should be left untouched, Spain’s forests require a different perspective, as they thrive through active management. Society has adopted the notion that forests should no longer be managed. Still, this approach leads to imbalances and problems — fire plays a natural role in forests by clearing brush and eliminating dead trees, for instance.

Eduard Correal Mòdol, representing the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia, concluded the discussion by presenting how forests have been managed in Catalonia, which bears similarities to those of Castilla y León. With over 60% of the region’s land covered by forests, Catalonia faces an increasing threat from wildfires as climate change advances in Spain. It is imperative to manage forests and fires effectively while educating the public about their natural occurrence.

Participating in LIGNA has been invaluable in acquiring knowledge about sustainable wood processing practices and discovering how they can be incorporated into our work at the Bioregions Facility.

Images: Rodrigo Mendes