SLU news

Learning from forest fires

Published: 12 January 2021
Forest fire. Photo.

A new research project aims at an in-depth analysis and increased understanding of the social suffering and the social learning of forest fires.

As an effect of the climate changes, large forest fires have become an increasing threat for rural communities around the world. Forest fires are not only devestating to the environment and the biodiversity, they also cause extensive human suffering. While States increase their investments in fire extinction, everyday experiences and efforts of rural communities coping with fires still need to be better analysed.

A new research project aims at an in-depth analysis and increased understanding of two aspects of forest fires: the social suffering and the social learning. This by comparing three different rural communities in Sweden, Spain and Chile – all recently affected by forest fires. The project will analyse the effects on the psychosocial well-being - how the impacts are distributed socially, as part of inequalities among rural communities (mediated by gender, class, ethnicity, etc.) and also related to social and political governance.

Through participatory research the project will map the local knowledge, which local knowledge is recognised, and how local participation takes place during and after forest fires. This will enable an environmental justice perspective of forest fires.

The results of this project are thought to inspire researchers and policymakers responsible for forest fire prevention plans in Sweden, Europe and Latin America, towards learning from forest fires - to reduce their socio-environmental impacts and prevent future ones.

The project will run for four years (2021-2024) and is funded by Formas, A Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. The project is a mobility grant project with collaborations with the Johns Hopkins University-Pompeu Fabra University Public Policy Center, University of Santiago de Compostela (both in Spain) and Universidad de la Frontera (Chile).

Read more on the project webpage »

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