Wildfires in european alps : frequent yesterday, rare today, frequent tomorrow ? / W. Finsinger
Wildfires in european alps : frequent yesterday, rare today, frequent tomorrow ?. Walter Finsinger. In "La construction des territoires montagnards : exploitation des ressources et mobilité des pratiques", 2e International Workshop on archaeology of european mountain landscape, organisé par les laboratoires GEODE, FRAMESPA, GEOLAB et Chrono-Environnement. Université Toulouse 2-Le Mirail, 8-11 octobre 2009. [seconde journée]
Over the past century, profound land-use changes have affected natural ecosystems in European mountain regions. The effects of a massive abandonment of agro-pastoral activities in those regions already translated into an expansion of forests that will likely increase in the coming decades. In combination with increased temperatures and decreased rainfall, as predicted by the majority of climate models, the risk of wildfire occurrence may therefore increase in future. Wildfires, whether natural or human induced, are rare today in the European Alps because they are rapidly suppressed. Hence, knowledge of fire ecology and the long-term role of wildfires in Alpine landscapes are lacking. In Central Europe and in the Alps, wildfires still receive very little attention in both nature conservation and management, and their potential managerial benefits are generally disregarded. In the following communication, I will briefly outline some results of palaeoecological investigations in the European Alps that indicate the higher frequency of wildfires in the past and their relationship to past land-use changes.