‘Worrying’ reemergence of wildfires due to climate change

Integrated fire management agency Working On Fire have issued a statement over the ‘worrying’ number of wildfires with climate change thought to be the driving factor.

The statement follows a United Nations Environment Programme report that calls for a radical change in government spending on wildfires. The UN report focused on shifting investment from reaction and response to prevention and preparing firefighters with the necessary equipment and training.

As climate change continues, the rising temperatures are making it easier for fires to begin and harder to be put out. Trevor Abrahams, Managing Director at Working On Fire, explained: “There does seem to be a pattern of more fires becoming more frequently and more intense. We also have the added challenge of alien vegetation, which is more extreme in terms of the spread of fire, wild land fires.

“Prior to the start of the season, we also engage these communities in them becoming aware of what steps to take to mitigate and avoid the risk of wild land fires.”

The UN Environment Programme report titled Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires, urged governments to adopt what they refer to as a new ‘Fire Ready Formula’. The formula outlined two-thirds of spending devoted to planning, prevention, preparedness, and recovery, with one third left for response to encourage an attitudinal shift amongst firefighting forces.

The report stated that at present the direct responses to wildfires typically receive over half of related expenditures, while planning receives less than one percent.

Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director explained: “Current government responses to wildfires are often putting money in the wrong place. Those emergency service workers and firefighters on the frontlines who are risking their lives to fight forest wildfires need to be supported.

“We have to minimise the risk of extreme wildfires by being better prepared: invest more in fire risk reduction, work with local communities, and strengthen global commitment to fight climate change.”

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