ESPERANTO wildfirE riSk
PERception ANd mitigation
The S-L project
in a few lines
This S-L project responds to the social need to prevent destructive wildfires, which represent a threat to human lives and livelihood. Monte Serra mountain (near Pisa) is an area frequently affected by accidental and intentional wildfires in the Tuscany region affecting agriculture, industry, tourism and sports and the preservation of cultural sites. A social approach to measuring fire risk that identifies human factors and knowledge gaps of the local population is needed in order to obtain a complete picture of wildfires.
Why are we interested?
Monte Serra is a mountain close to the city of Pisa on the coast of Tuscany. It is one of the areas most frequently affected by wildfires in the region. The overwhelming majority of wildfires can be traced to human action, both accidental and intentional, as was the case in the Calci wildfire in 2018, the most destructive in recent years. The sectors affected by wildfires are many: agriculture, industry, tourism and sports and the preservation of cultural sites. In a broad sense, this project responds to the social need to prevent destructive wildfires, which represent a threat to human lives and livelihood, and which are increasing in intensity due to global warming. Historically, wildfires in the region have not been effectively addressed through preventive action and there is a tendency to rely on firefighting, as the Calci wildfire response demonstrates (5 canadair, 5 airplanes, 2 helicopters and 2000 firefighters on the ground were deployed to fight the fire). In addition, current methods of analyzing fire risk rely on technical measurements such as morphology, vegetation and climate factors. A social approach to measuring fire risk that identifies human factors and knowledge gaps of the local population is needed in order to obtain a complete picture. Prevention through educational and community-based solutions that are targeted towards bridging specific gaps in knowledge and social fabric can help reduce Monte Pisano’s wildfire risk.
The main objective of the project is to reduce the occurrence of forest fires through prevention. It aims to achieve this through two interconnected actions that allow the planning of a specific intervention for the needs of the community.
Dates and place
Date. From 01/10/2021 to 31/07/2023
Place. The Italian project refers to the area of Monte Pisano and will be developed by students with an interdisciplinary background, in particular Forest Sciences and Adult Education Sciences and Pedagogical Sciences. Monte Pisano is a mountain system of modest size that is part of the Tuscan Subappennino, located in the center-north between Pisa and Lucca and it represents an extension of the Apuan Alps between the Serchio and the Arno rivers. The Monti Pisani’s territory includes the municipalities of Buti, Calci, San Giuliano Terme, Vicopisano, Vecchiano (including the Monti d’Oltreserchio), Lucca and Capannori. This area is characterized by the presence of numerous medieval villages, remains of fortifications, aqueducts and religious buildings, all places of historical and touristic interest. Moreover, since ancient times this mountainous area is mainly exploited for stone mining activities, especially on the southern side, whose appearance has changed over time. Other products form the area are: the oil along the hilly slopes, the chestnuts produced by the centuries-old trees of Molina di Quosa, and the mushrooms, of which the porcino is very well known. Therefore, the area of the Monti Pisani has a strong social and economic value for the presence of agricultural and woody activities, tourism, recreational activities, sports and wildlife-hunting, in addition to its proximity to urban centers that make it an easily accessible destination. Despite this, the area has problems related to the numerous fires that have occurred in the last 50 years. The most emblematic and recent one occurred on Monte Serra in September 2018, investing 1.150 ha of woodland.
Tutor students: Giammarco Dadà, student from Forestry Sciences, Erika Verdiani, student from Forestry Sciences, Andrea Cannarozzo, student from Agronomic Sciences & Technologies and Chiara Clemente, student from Adult and Continuing Education.
Tutors: Enrico Marchi Wood technologies & Forestry uses Associate Professor, Giovanni Mastrolonardo, Soil Science PhD Research Fellow, Giovanna Del Gobbo, Experimental Pedagogy Associate Professor and Glenda Galeotti, Social & Generic Pedagogy PhD Research Fellow.
The stakeholders which are expected to be involved in this S-L project, are:
- Associations (Comunità del Bosco, Sportello di Agroecologia, Pro Loco, hunting and sports associations)
- Fire protection associations (VAB) and Civil Protection
- Different schools of all orders and grades
- Local entrepreneurs
- Local & Public government officials
During the project, students will gain competences in the following areas:
- Performing a stakeholder map and classification
- Preparing a fire risk map using a GIS software
- Building a map of risk perception starting from the engagement of the stakeholders
They will also learn how to design an educational intervention to enhance and improve the skills of the local population (technical and transversal) with specific attention to build, manage and work in local networking. Lastly, they will learn how to define and implement an effective campaign of dissemination, information and training for increasing fire risk awareness.
Description of technical and educational activities
All fires that occurred in the Monti Pisani ‘s area are attributable to human action, both of a culpable nature and, in some cases, malicious, as it was for the most impactful fire of Calci in 2018. This identifies the need to promote training and knowledge as widespread as possible on the territory to make effective prevention actions and avoid the recurrence of such events. In order to be able to operate in line with these objectives it is even more necessary to outline a picture of the perception of risk on the whole area and to focus on those where there is the greatest need for intervention.
The first phase will identify the areas of the territory with the highest degree of fire risk and the strengths and weaknesses of the community, in terms of skills and knowledge to fight fires. Specifically, the actions of this phase are:
- TECHNICAL MAP: The collection of data useful to create a fire risk map in the territory of the Monti Pisani. The objective of this map will be to obtain an identification, on the basis of climatic, vegetational and morphological parameters, of the areas where there is the greatest risk of a fire due to the respective frequency and intensity.
- MAP OF PERCEPTION: The drawing up of a map of the level of perception of the risk of fire by the community and the stakeholders is divided into 3 sub-phases in order to obtain data comparable with that of the technical map. The educational phase, described in more detail in Phase II of the project, will be mainly based on participatory activities. It will not be provided, in fact, specific training and teaching as the proposed objective is to involve the society of interest on several levels through a teaching experience in the field, promoting the acquisition of daily habits and actions with a view to constant land management.
- PROTOTYPE OF EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: The proposed activities will be designed later at the meetings that will take place with stakeholders and based on the needs that are encountered during these events of dialogue and exchanges of views. The meetings with the local population, in fact, will not only be aimed at obtaining the degree of perception but also to understand how to offer our contribution in line with the traditions, habits and priorities of the territory. We will pass, therefore, from a first step that will provide “our education” and then design the best prototype of educational activities in the final phase of the project.
In the second phase, following the analysis of the gap between real and perceived risk, which will allow to identify the training needs of the local population, specific training and educational activities will be planned and carried out. The aim of the educational action is to raise awareness of the necessary knowledge and skills, both technical and transversal, in preventing and managing fires by all the population involved. Technical skills refer to specific skills and practices related to fire prevention (e.g. the right behaviour to adopt, forest management, etc.), while transversal skills refer to the ability to relate within a social context (e.g. working in a group, problem solving, effective communication, conflict management, etc.). The objectives of this phase of the project are:
- Strengthening relationships and communication between stakeholders.
- Enhancing knowledge and skills that were weak from the analysis during the first phase of the project.
- Promoting the sustainability of educational action through the involvement of stakeholders in the development of such activities.
The specific training objectives will be further elaborated, after the analysis of the data that were obtained during the first phase of the project. On the basis of statistical data and scientific literature on fires, it will be possible to hypothesize which among the needs of the community training might emerge some of the following elements:
- Awareness of the role of the population in forest fires.
- Awareness of the importance of forest management for fire prevention.
- Knowledge of forest fire management.
- Raising awareness of the meaning and activity of fire in the positive and negative sense to have a more global view of the phenomenon.
- Sense of shared responsibility that moves from the individual to the collective.
- Knowledge of educational devices that focus on relationships and help people change their context of life.
The specific dissemination strategy at the town, region and country level will be elaborated with the officials of the Region of Tuscany, partners of this project. They represent a crucial vehicle for reaching a wider audience.
INNOVATIVE ASPECTS OF THE PROJECT
Our project team is interdisciplinary, and this is important for developing innovation because members from different backgrounds contribute new perspectives on how to solve the problem. Innovation is also generated by involving the community in the process, and for this reason, our project has a strong component of stakeholder involvement during the research phase and educational intervention phase. The main innovation of our service-learning project is the method of addressing wildfire prevention: educational activities will be developed in response to specific educational needs of the community identified through a scientific research approach. In this way, the message and educational intervention will be targeted and not generic. Another innovative aspect is the creation of the risk perception map which will be mapped onto the technical risk map to obtain a more accurate analysis of wildfire risk. The final product will be a risk map that includes technical and social factors. Given that the problem of wildfires is almost entirely linked to human activity, current methods of risk analysis which include only technical elements do not give a complete picture. The method of mapping the social factor will help advance wildfire prevention and research moving into the future