Posted on Jan 6, 2022, 11:15 a.m.
2018, 2019, 2020, 2021: in recent years, from the Mediterranean to California, from Siberia to Australia, millions of hectares of forests have been ravaged by huge fires that are difficult to control and have caused dozens of dead. Fanned by extreme weather conditions, these “mega-fireplaces” are set to become more frequent in the years to come. Including in France: last August in the Var, more than 7,000 hectares went to ash in the Massif des Maures, a fire that more than 1,000 firefighters took a week to extinguish.
With global warming, “we have changed dimensions. We will have to face the news of a mega-fire which could create colossal damage but especially deaths ”, warns the environmentalist deputy François-Michel Lambert, on the occasion of the presentation of a“ flash ”information mission carried out. with LREM deputy Alain Perea on forest fire prevention. They plead for the next legislature to make the issue a priority.
The occurrence of a mega-fire constitutes, according to them, “an increasingly credible risk […] the scale of which requires “a national awareness”. Because this risk is not limited to the south of France alone, underlines Alain Perea. “It can be in Aude, in the Bouches du Rhône, but also in the Vosges or the Jura which is a fragile territory in relation to this issue”, abounds François-Michel Lambert. If 20% of France were affected by conditions conducive to the outbreak of fires between 1960 and 1980, 40% had become in the 2010s, according to Météo-France. And the percentage will only increase over the next few decades. By 2060, nearly 60% of the land area and metropolitan forests will be affected.
Today, 95% of forest fires in France – the vast majority of which are caused by an act of recklessness, bad luck or malice – are extinguished before affecting 5 hectares. An “effective” prevention policy, according to the deputies, who however point to a lack of coordination of messages for the general public and of the means allocated to “very modest” communication actions, as well as the lack of complete costing of the cost of fires.
Strengthen town planning rules
“The diffuse habitat, the development of wasteland, the decline in the presence of human activity or the edge in forest areas, or even the poor implementation of the legal obligation to clear brush are all risk factors on which we cannot afford to ignore, ”they add.
The two deputies believe that the town planning rules must be strengthened. “500,000 homes are at risk of forest fire, or 1.5 to 2 million inhabitants,” insists François-Michel Lambert, noting in passing that 100,000 building permits are filed each year in the Var department. In addition, maintains the elected, half of the homes affected by the monster fire of August 2021 “were not in part or completely in accordance with the building permit”.
They also call for a more sustainable management of forests and their edges, via the development of forestry which “plays an essential role in limiting the risk of fires”, or agropastoralism, agricultural practices which combine breeding to agriculture.