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Andrés Weintraub, National Award on Applied Sciences

Is Chile prepared to deal with wildfires?

Nota asociada a categoría: Commentator thinks

Press SeguridadExpo 2021

By Andrés Weintraub, Complex Engineering Systems Institute, Industrial Engineering Universidad de Chile. National Award for Applied Sciences. Last year a fire storm devastated 569.600 hectares of forest and homes from Coquimbo to Los Lagos. It spread out 3.5 more gases emissions than all cars in Chile in a year. However, CONAF (Forest National Corporation) gave a positive balance: 95% less affected areas than 2016 and 2017. In spite of this, Wildfires are a constant danger and we cannot beat this record. We are working with international experts on a preventive mathematical optimization model to prevent fire spreading. A planification harvest model with firebreak was developed, but also with monetary benefit. It is always an economic lost at first, but it is recovered when there are less wildfires. This model, called Fuel Management, will reduce wildfires by cleaning forest from flammable materials like bushes, weeds, and branches. Historically, Wildfire fight strategies has been for extinguishing, and not for prevention policies. However, there have been successfully implemented new models to know the future extinguishing logistical needs, like fireman brigades, helicopters, or planes, as well as models that in real time plan a preventive logistic for fire propagation programs. Also, fire propagation simulator with information about the weather, wind direction, topography, forests and weed characteristics. In relation with long terms wildfire prevention measures, a model that joins the forest monetary value and a future wildfire reduction policy is been developed. This by firebreaks that protect areas with more monetary value and delay the fire propagation to towns. It is logic; to reduce wildfires, an active, effective, integrated and sustained policy must be applied. On this context, mathematical models capable of joining the wildfire risk and the forest management planification are fundamental tools to implement these preventions.

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