Nurturing Resilience: The Journey of FIRE-RES Galicia Living Lab

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Guided by Xunta De Galicia and its Forest Fire Prevention and Defence Service, the Galician FIRE-RES Living Lab (LL) confirms itself as a powerhouse of innovation, rooted in the vision of fire-safe villages. We gathered insights about the latest updates from Jorge García, Pedro Gómez, Marta Fernández, Pablo Hermo and Manuel Martínez, officials from the Forest Fire Prevention and Defence Service.

Setting the Stage: A Vision of Preparedness

At the heart of the Galician LL lies the aspiration to cultivate self-sufficiency and readiness among the inhabitants of “Model Villages“. The concept first appeared in a 2011 law and the first model village (Osmo) was approved in August 2019 and further developed with a dedicated regulation on the recovery of agricultural land in Galicia. Originally, model villages were conceived as a tool to recover agricultural land through sustainable production on abandoned lands with high productive capacity.

The wildfire dimension entered the picture because of the villages’ location in a highly fire-prone area, but also thanks to the focus on raising community awareness, creating preparedness and response plans with local civil protection, and contributing to fire risk reduction.

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Between intercontinental exchanges, national hurdles and local success stories

The Aldeas Modelo Seguras share some of their principles with the Chilean Red de Prevención Comunitaria. It is not a coincidence that the two FIRE-RES initiatives already shared their insights during a virtual webinar last October. Further exchanges with the Portuguese and Catalan Living Labs are planned for later this year.

We have learned a lot working with the partners of FIRE-RES and with the inhabitants of the Trelle Model Village. Despite the enormous effort we made, we are very proud to be part of the consortium

The journey was indeed not always smooth and administrative hurdles proved to be challenging. Notably, navigating the Spanish bureaucracy delayed the project implementation in the Living Lab. Yet, the analysis and preparation of the Trelle model village reportedly made the process worth the effort.

The community is expected to be soon prepared for the potential impact of an extreme wildfire, and the landscape has been treated with forestry operations to reduce the fuel vegetation. A series of prescribed burning actions is planned soon, along with the development of virtual reality equipment for simulation purposes. Today, the Living Lab seeks to fortify community engagement for fire risk prevention in other model villages in Galicia and could potentially be replicated in any part of Europe or the world, as reported by Jorge García, Pedro Gómez, Marta Fernández, Pablo Hermo and Manuel Martínez.

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Notable signs of progress can be shared on the technology side too. The Galician LL finalised the world’s first double-action wildfire suppression lance. This tool allows forest firefighters to extinguish flames, while a shield of water mist protects them from dangerous fire radiations.

In conclusion, the FIRE-RES Galicia Living Lab demonstrates the transformative potential of engaging local communities in confronting the existential threat of forest fires. Fostering a shared vision of resilience and advancing scientific know-how, the team paves the way for a future where resilient communities thrive.

Author: Beatrice Bellavia (Euromontana)

Contributors: Jorge García, Pedro Gómez, Marta Fernández, Pablo Hermo and Manuel Martínez (Xunta).