The Korea Herald


Global forum shares measures to better prevent wildfires

By 정주원

Published : Oct. 15, 2015 - 19:39

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KFS Minister Shin Won-sop (left) and other key participants look around an exhibition hall at the sixth IWFC in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, on Wednesday. (KFS) KFS Minister Shin Won-sop (left) and other key participants look around an exhibition hall at the sixth IWFC in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, on Wednesday. (KFS)

The five-day 6th International Wildland Fire Conference will end Friday, with governments, international organizations and experts joining hands in sharing and spreading knowledge of fire.

On the opening day of Oct. 12, global administrators, policymakers, scholars and students gathered at Alpensia Resort, Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, for the event with the theme “Fire of the Past, Fire in Future.”

More than 170 papers were presented throughout the conference, followed by an award ceremony.

On the second day, a plenary session on the legacy of fire and five sessions were scheduled on community and wildland fire, toward a cohesive global fire management strategy, application of technology to wildland fire management and protecting global natural and cultural heritage from fire.

Eleven keynote speakers, including Dr. Johann Georg Goldammer, director of the Global Fire Monitoring Center, Pieter van Lierop from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Joseph Kreidi from the UNESCO Regional Office, delivered presentations on their area of expertise.

Tom Harbour from the U.S. Forest Service spoke on the issue of cohesive global fire management strategy and ways to enhance community and ecosystem resilience against large wildland fires. Ko Ki-yeon from the Korea Forest Service introduced Korea’s unique geographical and social aspects and forest fire policies established based on them.

For each plenary session, participants were welcomed to freely join the discussion with the speakers, to voice fresh ideas and experiences with the experts.

In parallel with plenary meetings, seven subsessions were held on issues including knowledge from country experience, wildland fire and ecosystem and advanced technologies for wildland fire management.

Youn Ho-joong, chairman of the scientific committee of the 6th IWFC, stated that these sessions “have brought experiences and lessons learned from the past to establishing new wildland fire management policies for the future.”

On the third day, the IWFC presented one of the event’s highlights -- a helicopter firefighting drill performed by 300 on-site experts on 15 helicopters.

The drill was demonstrated by a joint dream team of the KFS aviation unit, the Defense Ministry, police, the Public Safety Ministry firefighting unit and the municipality of Pyeongchang, adding to the splendor of the global conference.

On the fourth day, the IWFC held a thesis competition for promising undergraduate and graduate students around the world, in partnership with the International Processes Commission of the International Forest Student Association, international organizations and universities at home and abroad.

As part of the newly launched IWFC Youth Program, the competition selected 18 outstanding theses on wildland fire, disaster and risk management, cultural and natural heritage protection, climate and meteorology and other related subjects.

Some of the topics covered in the theses included the diagnosis of wildland fire risks in the Korean ancient city of Gyeongju by using the Monte Carlo simulation method, the wildland fire management program in Portugal, the current conditions and corrective measures of the Vietnamese wildland fire, the prediction method of wildland fire in India’s largest habitat of tigers, the influence of wildland fire on the Far East Asian atmosphere and fire-weather index as a preventive alert system in Turkey.

Four of the 18 participating teams were awarded in the competition.

“Through a global thesis competition like this, we hope that Korean students can take the opportunity to build global capacities and share ideas with peers from around the globe,” said Choi Young-tae, director of the IWFC organizing unit of the Korea Forest Service.

On the last day of Oct. 16, the IWFC was set to arrange an arena for sharing knowledge on the protection of world culture heritage related to fire.  

    By Chung Joo-won (