European perspectives on community engagement and on peatland fire ecology — Dr. Núria Prat-Guitart

Geology Lecture Theatre -- Rm 211
Geography & Environmental Studies Building
Sandy Bay Campus
University of Tasmania
9 Apr 2019

The Fire Centre will be hosting Dr. Núria Prat-Guitart, a peatland fire ecologist and community-engagement specialist from the Pau Costa Foundation in Barcelona. Núria will be talking about her experiences with community engagement as part of the Pau Costa Foundation. The Foundation has a similar mission to The Fire Centre in trying to connect wildfire scientists and managers from many different backgrounds and perspectives. We are eager to hear the perspective of an organisation that has success in pursuing this goal.

Here’s a recording of the seminar for those of you who missed it:

Community engagement approaches

The 2017 and 2018 fire seasons around the world have shown there is a global new normal of fire behaviours that cannot be predicted under the current science. The response systems working under very uncertain conditions have collapsed facing wildfire behaviours that are not used to fight. The consequences of those system collapses, as we all know, are tragic. The bad news is that these extreme wildfires are here to stay and we need to joint efforts to act immediately.

Research and technology are sometimes perceived to be slower than the management and societal needs. As a consequence, decisions on the ground often rely more on experience rather than science. But no one doubts that experience is limited when it comes to the new normal. In some sense, the research communities and the fire communities around the world are closer than ever, yet there is not always a single and clear voice to reach out politicians and society.

The presentation will discuss some key ideas about how this challenge is addressed in Europe and in particular Pau Costa Foundation’s approaches to engage these communities.

Peat fire ecology and behaviour in temperate peatlands

Smouldering fire have been much less studied than flaming fire, despite being considered the most persistent fire on Earth. The combustion of organic soils during wildfires is a challenge from both an ecologic and management perspectives. Firstly, consumption of deep layers of soil causes habitat loss and releases important amounts of Methane and Carbon Monoxide to the atmosphere. Second, budget and efforts are spent on controlling re-ignitions often caused by smouldering combustion of organic materials that can ultimately cause the collapse of the response systems if the re-ignitions happen during periods of simultaneous fire events.

The seminar will focus on presenting the challenges that Europe is facing regarding these types of fires, and some results from studies conducted in Europe to understand the factors that drive the smouldering fire dynamics in organic soils.


Nuria Prat-Guitart is a geographer and fire ecologist participating in several international projects with the Pau Costa Foundation. Her field of research is peatland fire ecology and in particularly smouldering combustion behaviour. She has published several articles on understanding the spread of these types of fires on temperate and boreal peat fires, more specifically on the fundamental understanding of the effect of fuel conditions on the spread of fires.

Since 2016 she is part of the Pau Costa Foundation team, where she participates in several international transdisciplinary projects that aim at bringing together practitioner knowledge and experiences with science and innovation. She also leads the area of science, where she participates in several initiatives to connect management and research in the most effective way.

About Pau Costa Foundation (PCF): established in 2011, acts as a connection point between fire managers, researchers, society and policy makers, with the objective to exchange knowledge about wildfires. PCF participates on a range of actions at a regional, national, European and global scale that aim at mitigating the effects of wildfires and create more resilient landscapes and society.

Nuria: @nur_prat
Pau Costa Foundation: @PauCostaF