ECO.Fire – The economic value of forest fires as a support for preventive behavior

Forest fires have been considered one of the main environmental problems. Despite this importance, its economic impact, which takes into account direct and indirect economic losses, is currently not well measured. In addition to the loss of human life, of properties and infrastructures, the extent of the consequences of the fire, from a forest perspective, can be assessed in large part by the social cost of such fires, which is the most negative of the associated externalities. Accurate accounting of the impacts of Forest fires is essential, not only for determining the compensation due to the affected communities but also for producing useful information for management and protection actions against the fire itself. The possibility of being able to estimate a priori the predictable cost of a forest fire in a given location can support the decision process of owners, managers and territorial entities with regard to decisions such as choice of species to explore, management of forest strips, alteration of land uses or even balance costs of cleanings taking into account the various cost scenarios in advance. It is recognized that the assessment of economic losses caused by forest fires is an activity of high complexity and importance, due to the number of short, medium and long-term effects, on social, economic and environmental levels, and also by the difficulty of allocating a market value to resources such as biological diversity and the preservation of threatened species.

The team in this work, combining high-level knowledge of environmental economic assessment methods, impacts of forest fires and computational tools, aims to build a model for the economic assessment of the impacts of forest fires, involving the local population, which will serve as a tool to support forest management and fire prevention policies. In addition to the direct and indirect accounting of the impacts of fires, we propose to use non-market valuation methods to explore the value of assets related to forest resources that can be lost through forest fires. In addition, we design a socio-economic experience, which tests mechanisms to contribute to the prevention of forest fires. Both methodologies are established in the literature and have been implemented in several studies by members of the research team following high international standards.

Responsible researcher: Ligia Maria Costa Pinto
Proponent institution: University of Minho
Main R&D unit: Economic Policy Research Nucleus (EEG / UM)
Participating institutions: Computer Graphics Center
Financing: 167 909 €