"The change should start from the fire management level"

3:16:09 PM | 8/7/2020

This recommendation comes from Dr. Gabriela Raducan, who completed the PhD degree at RMIT University Melbourne, Australia, where she undertook a deep research in the bushfires field. She has a multidisciplinary background and broad experience in advanced data science and ICT. She is very passionate about research and now she is working on a research project related to bushfires management.

Dr. Raducan, from your experience, what should be done to reduce the number of forest fires and the burnt area?

In my opinion, people should start by collaborating with each other. There are many fields involved in bushfires management, so the researchers in very many fields can help reduce this calamity.

Usually, all the aspects related to forest fires are treated separately, ignoring the connection between them. Instead, the researchers from different fields have to collaborate considering a whole problem with different aspects.

Also, a change is needed because in the last years almost the same actions were taken and we have the same outcome: we are still not able to extinguish the wildfires. I believe that the change should start from the fire management level.

In Australia, for example, where the natural environment needs the fire to clean it up, the best method to prevent the wildfires is to organize “planned fires” in wildfire prone areas.

In India, only 21.4% of forest areas are prone to fires, so there shouldn’t be many fires in the country. However, there are, and out of these, 95% are of anthropogenic origin according to Forest Survey of India (Volume I, No. 1/2019), which means that these fires are caused by people, mostly when they prepare the land for agriculture (slash-and-burn cultivation).

This is one reason why the forest cover in the north-east of India has decreased, which is very concerning. Also, these fires have a huge impact on the ecosystems and biodiversity.

From my point of view, the best way to deal with the forest fires is to try to prevent them as much as possible.

Obviously, in this particular case, the ways to prevent the fires should be different. 

The focus should be to make people aware of the danger that a small fire can create, to educate them, to create a strong legislation, and ultimately, to apply the legislation without exception. 

We have to keep in mind that the wildfires have a negative impact on air quality and the air pollution caused by wildfires might impact the whole world (after a big wildfire, the air pollution can travel around the globe). This is the reason why I believe that other countries that are not very affected by wildfires, but are affected by the air pollution from wildfires, should be interested in joining this research.

The majority of fire cases across all countries have human negligence as a root cause. Therefore, all the researchers in relevant fields should come together in a global collaboration and create an educational program mandatory for the population. The change in people's behavior will be smoother if it is a global initiative.

Another very important aspect here is finding an efficient way to extinguish the fire. Using water to extinguish the fire is not feasible, especially for India, given that India is among the world's most water-stressed countries.

What else can be used, apart from water or toxic substances?

At this stage, I am working to create a prototype of a new device, able to extinguish the wildfires without using water, and with no negative impact on the natural environment.

The next step will be to create a remotely controlled robot, able to handle the above mentioned device. This is the best method to protect people's lives in case of fires and to successfully extinguish the fires.

I am very passionate about this project and I am sure it will make a significant difference in the fight with the fires.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum