ErWin - Expansion of ecological, silvicultural and technical knowledge about forest fires

  • contact:

    Dr. Fabian Faßnacht

  • Partner:

    IfGG, ITAS, IMK-IFU Campus Alpin

    Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institute,

    Institute of Forest Ecosystems,  Eberswalde

    State Competence Centre Forest Eberswalde  

    Institute of the Fire Department NRW, Department K2, Crisis management and research

The project spans the temporal and spatial arc from the pre- and post-fire phases, and from the national scale to individual forest fires. This will generate essential basic knowledge about forest fires in Central European forests, which will be incorporated into corresponding management recommendations.

Warmer, drier summers are now increasing the risk of forest fires in Germany too. In the last two years there have been several large fires, but especially a large number of smaller forest fires. This increasing danger is contrasted by a lack of knowledge, which affects forestry practice as well as fire brigades and other organisations involved in danger prevention. This is also reflected in the lack of training in fighting forest fires. In the proposed project, important foundations for the knowledge-based handling of forest fires in the areas of silviculture and fire fighting are to be created.
The Thuenen Institute of Forest Ecosystems will carry out retrospective analyses. These record both climatic and forest structural conditions of former forest fire areas in order to link particularly endangered structures with critical climatic conditions. In addition, the dynamics of acute fires will be documented by compiling data recorded by helicopters and drones. The analyses should lead to the development of dynamic forest fire hazard indices.
These and other data from the monitoring and inventories will also be used by KIT-IfGG to adapt existing fire propagation models to German conditions. After adaptation of the fire propagation models, these are used to estimate the efficiency of silvicultural and specific fire risk reducing measures by scenario building. Furthermore, KIT-IfGG will develop a classification key for fuel types in Germany, which will also be needed as input for the fire propagation models.
Both the data collected by the Thuenen Institute and the modeling results of KIT are to provide information on past fires to the practice partner, the Institute of the Fire Brigade NRW. This is one of the bases for the development of a guideline on operational strategies and the recommended equipment of fire brigades for the efficient fighting of forest fires.
The Landeskompetenzzentrum Forst Eberswalde will compare the dynamics of soil conditions directly after a fire as well as on an existing forest fire area in recent years (Heintz & Luthhardt, 2019), since the loss of nutrients, their redistribution over the area as well as changes in soil structure due to the effects of fire have a decisive influence on the renaturation of stands and the stability of soils. In a further part of the project, the targeted renaturation and reestablishment of stands will be investigated extensively with the help of vegetation analyses and a germination experiment carried out by KIT-ITAS and KIT-IMK.