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Forest/ Rural fires

6-7 yrs old

8-10 yrs old

11-13 yrs old

Climate & Environment

Geography

Simulation about forest/ rural fires in Portugal and southern europe - consequences and preventive measures to be taken to reduce the spread of fire

21
avatar Submitted By: Filipe Ferreira

August 23, 2018

Skills

  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

External References

Portugal wildfire management

Report about wildfire management in Portugal - causes, consequences and strategies

Learning Objectives

  • Identify landscape elements facilitating the spread of rural/ forest fires
  • Analyze the consequences of rural/ forest fires for both human settlements and natural habitats
  • Implement measures to prevent and combat the spread of rural/ forest fires

Guiding Ideas

Forests are more than ever in need of protection to maintain not only their biological diversity, but also because they are the most important air-cleaning factor on our globe, apart from the oceans. They act as carbon sinks and as physical air filters. They help avoid floods and erosion by retaining precipitation in the soil.
However, with the obvious effects of climate change, the lack of rural and forest territorial planning, of road and railway infrastructures as well as human settlements, the risk for forest fires and the vulnerability of forests have now reached a level beyond which further burning would seriously endanger these ecosystems and their sustainable management. On average, about 50 000 fires burn a surface of 500 000 ha every year in Europe, specially in the hotter climates in southern europe (Portugal, Spain, Greece...)
This lesson is basically a simulation of the unmanaged and unkempt forest areas found in many rural areas in southern europe and of the effects (both for Man and Nature) of increasingly devastating forest fires.

Student Activities

1. students collaboratively create a map (size depends on the number of students in the class) with the following basic characteristics:
- diversified relief (plains, plateaus, mountains and valleys) with the presence of some water courses
- most of the map must be heavily forested (species and diversity at the discretion of the class)
- some cultivated and grazed areas
- dwellings and small villages (built mainly of wood) scattered over forested areas
- network of small roads linking villages
- presence of wildlife, mainly in forests
2. While most students personify villagers, some students start forest fires scattered across the map.
3. Students in the class analyze the development of forest fires and their consequences for wildlife and villages. In the end, the teacher can discuss possible causes of forest fires, as well as their effects, such as the destruction of natural habitats, destruction of dwellings, loss of life, disruption of economic activities, etc.
4. Returning to the original map the students apply some strategies of prevention / combat to forest fires, such as:
- creating a safety zone around homes of at least 10m by clearing any flammable plants and trees
- ensuring driveways have a minimum clearance of 4m wide, 4m high
- creating water reservoires
- creating a primary fuelbreak system
- creating observation towers for faster forest fire detection
- Use vegetation type conversion to create mosaic patterns of species diversity across landscapes

Performance Expectations

At the end of the simulation students should have a better understanding of the possible causes of forest fires in rural areas today, as well as their consequences and the passive measures that can be implemented.

Skills

  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

External References

Portugal wildfire management

Report about wildfire management in Portugal - causes, consequences and strategies