Handbook to Plan and Use Prescribed Burning in Europe

Prescribed burning is the planned application of fire to achieve forest and wildland management goals. The practice of prescribed burning demands skills and experience and is always under public scrutiny. Such use of fire is expected to be wise, i.e. it should maximize the benefits of burning while avoiding or minimizing its negative impacts. Consequently, prescribed burning is framed by land management goals and site-specific treatment objectives and is conditioned by both environmental and social restrictions. The decision-making and planning process can thus benefit from decision-support tools that will enhance the proficiency of the practitioners. The UTAD team from Portugal has coordinated the Handbook to Plan and Use Prescribed Burning in Europe that puts together all the technical information currently available.

Paulo Fern
Paulo Fernandes
Researcher at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
Departamento de Cięncias Florestais e Arquitectura Paisagista

Who will be interested in this product and why?

Prescribed burning practitioners are the main target of this product. We view the handbook as a user-friendly source of information with operational value. Prescribed fire users can benchmark their practice against the handbook recommendations, familiarize with and try prescriptions developed elsewhere for the same management objective and, in the future, provide input towards improvement and refinement. Educational organizations and environmental consultants will also benefit. The handbook will naturally find application in prescribed burning training and outreach, and can provide a framework to plan research on fire ecology themes.

What are the innovative features?

The handbook delivers a conceptual framework to plan, carry out and evaluate a burn operation, and aggregates and digests knowledge that was dispersed or needed to be formalized. Some of the contents were specifically derived for the handbook, namely standard prescriptions for specific goals that were generated using models of fire behaviour and effects.

How does it serve the European cause and promotes the philosophy of Fire Paradox?

Promotion of the Fire Paradox philosophy is attained by making available a product that will assist prescribed burning practitioners in the decision-making process, hence improving their skills and operational effectiveness and contributing to increase the social acceptability of prescribed burning. The handbook is in itself a tool to disseminate the wise use of fire across Europe. In the frame of exchanges between regions and countries the handbook is expected to constitute a rapid reference guide for the "outsiders".

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General objectives

The handbook aims at compiling, organizing and synthesizing both qualitative and quantitative knowledge relevant to prescribed burning operations in European ecosystems. The main emphasis is put on prescriptions, i.e. the conditions desired for the burn and that will allow reaching the pre-defined treatment objectives.

Innovative aspects

An European-level and comprehensive reference source on the technical aspects of prescribed burning is available for the first time. The handbook is more than a compilation, as it includes components purposely developed.

Major results

The prescribed burning handbook gathers prescriptions from all around Europe, from sub-tropical to boreal environments. The information is presented mostly in tables, which are organized by management objective and vegetation type. Most data concerns the application of fire to mitigate fuel hazard or manage habitats in diverse types of shrubland and pine woodland. Two general types of prescriptions are presented, respectively to achieve a broad goal (e.g. renew pastures) or a specific objective defined in quantitative terms (e.g. reduce fuel load by 70%). Included are ranges for the desired weather and moisture conditions and fire behaviour and effects, as well as ignition patterns and the interval between treatments.

Handbook to Plan and Use Prescribed Burning in Europe Screenshot

Handbook Prescribed burning Europe

Handbook to Plan and Use Prescribed Burning in Europe

Handbook to Plan and Use Prescribed Burning in Europe

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