risks, recommendations and new technologies in Limousin

Since January 2022, the number of fires in France has tripled the current average over the past ten years. Are the forests of Limousin as at risk of fire as those of the Gironde? What recommendations are in place in the area to avoid a fire? Answers.

Saint-Pardou-le-Vieux in Corrèze. This is one of the last cities in Limousin to be affected by a forest fire. A total of three hectares caught fire, and a few days later the fire resumed.

It’s time to take stock. Mayor Philippe Roche arrived that day, accompanied by Sylvester Couder, a forestry expert, to see the damage done by the flames on the heights of the city. “This is the first time this has happened here. There has never been a fire here in the last thirty years.

If the fire seems to have gone out, then a few sparks flare up again. These little fires come from the roots. Five days after the fires, this area again requires the intervention of firefighters.

The intervention team, which arrived twenty minutes later, would remain for several hours to completely extinguish the fire and ensure that it did not start again.

In Limousin, fires cover tens and sometimes hundreds of hectares. Incomparable numbers compared to the Gironde megafire. But even on the Millevash Plateau, the risk is very real, and natural protection is not enough to keep all the coniferous trees from fires. “Trunks are almost fire barriers and do not allow fire to spread over the heights. On the other hand, on some small coniferous trees, we see that if there are low branches, the fire can start much higher.“, says Sylvester Kuder, forestry expert.

While three of Limousin’s departments were placed in crisis, the highest level in case of drought, in August 2022, locals are worried. Some saw how coals developed several kilometers from the houses. “I have never seen these flames, these torches, these crackles that fire brings. So I told myself that we saw it on TV, but that this beat, it was not far. Actually, I was a little scared.”

Forest owners are also concerned. Here, after the anomalous heat of recent weeks, the humus has become especially dry and turned into a fine powder. A simple spark and everything can ignite in minutes. “We have never seen such a drought. If the fire breaks out, I don’t know where it can stop. He can leave at any time for one reason or another.“, says Daniel Escurat, owner of the forest in Corrèze.

In the face of the growing risk of fire, there are solutions. According to Sylvester Kudert, this includes protecting the land from fires, in particular by diversifying species and creating clearings. Another important point is the maintenance of plots in the huge Limousin forest, which in itself makes up a third of the territory.

Soon the fire of forest and natural spaces was to be officially considered a serious risk in about fifty communes of Upper Vienna. These are three areas: southwest of Haute-Vienne on the outskirts of Périgord, southeast towards Nedde and Emoutiers, as well as to some municipalities in Mont-d’Ambazac.

New The Departmental Main Risk File (DDRM), a document that lists all the risks in the area (floods, radon, transport of hazardous materials, etc.), will be approved and signed in the summer by the Prefecture of Upper Vienna.
in previous DDR for the department are dated 2013 and did not take into account the risk of forest fires.

“We wanted to take into account the risk of wildfires, because climate change forces us to adapt”reported at the end of July 2022 by Commander Aurélien Sabourdi, head of the SDIS 87 prevention and forecasting group.

The firefighters of International Emergency, a non-governmental organization based in Limoges, are part of a consortium spearheaded by a model unique in the world: a set of tools equipped with sensors, thermal imaging cameras and a drone to help prevent fires in high-risk areas. areas.

Recently, a European expert discovered this device, which will soon be tested in the Mont d’Ambazac mountain range.

Here, in 2019, almost 50 hectares of forest burned down. Three years later, traces of the fire are still visible. A few days ago, a European fire prevention project called Silvanus was presented in this very place. His tools are sensors on the ground, thermal imaging cameras and drones responsible for direct notification of rescue centers.

Two types of drones are needed: a Phantom4 for mapping and modeling areas of interest in 3D, and another, more accurate, allowing reconnaissance missions in wildfires thanks to the built-in thermal imaging camera.

It is an indispensable tool for the prevention and monitoring of forests, as well as for determining access routes to massifs, especially after a fire. We see it grow back quite anarchically when there is no maintenance. Now there are three stages: prevention, intervention and elimination of a fire with a tree transplant.“, says Philippe Besson, President of the International Association of Emergency Firefighters.

It is these three stages that can only be achieved with foresters who strive to diversify the species in their areas in order to reduce the risk of fire. “Fire fighting is done through maintenance work to reduce the amount of associated vegetation, which is more flammable.“.

Other stakeholders in the forest: local residents. “It would be nice if the old uncultivated meadows were also cleared, this would make it possible to install firewalls“.

Wherever we go, people are open to these ideas and experiments. Anywhere in the world, the goal is the same – to use new technologies to find solutions.“, – admits Krishna Chandramuli, designer of the European project Silvanus.

In a few months, the Silvanus project should be tested for the first time in four corners of the planet: in Indonesia, Brazil or Australia. This test will also be carried out in France, specifically at Mont-d’Ambazac, an area that is still intact and is due to be the subject of full-scale mega-virtual fire experiments by June 2023.