Portugal is facing a structural problem related to the development and management of rural areas, aggravated by the effects of climate change. Rural fires are a consequence of this problem and represent a serious threat to the communities’ security, the forest economy and the economic and social development of the country. The complexity of this problem requires many complementary structural actions, including restructuring the model for prevention and suppression of rural fires and promoting active management of forested areas, as so to valuing forest products and services, which will have effects in the short-term but especially in the long-term.
The importance of the national forests, both in economic terms, as a base of developed industrial ranks and in social terms, as guarantor of employment in rural areas, and in environmental terms, as a guarantor of the regulation of the water system, soil preservation and of microclimatic protection, was widely recognized by the Council of Ministers Resolution (Resolução do Conselho de Ministros) no. 6-B/2015, on the National Forest Strategy. Indeed, bringing economic profitability to forest agents, starting with forest owners, is a key aspect in overcoming the current paradigm of lack of forest management, which consequently leads to an increased structural risk of rural fires.
Aiming to do innovative multidisciplinary research and knowledge transfer in integrated forest and fire management, responding to the national priorities of the Council of Ministers Resolution no. 159/2017, through joint efforts of the university, public administration, and industry, ForestWISE was awarded the CoLAB title granted by FCT in 2018, January 30.
As so, ForestWISE CoLAB emerges as an R&D&I institution with emphasis on knowledge transfer that brings together the multiple interdisciplinary areas that are relevant for building up a holistic and cohesive approach for the problem of rural fires and the directly related problem of the valorization of forest (market and non-market) products and services.