Expert Tipsheet: Forestry and Wilderness Management for Fire Prevention Fire Prevention Expert Ugo Feunekes Available to Comment on Forest Management Planning Technology to Help Prevent and Control Wildfires

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Ugo Feunekes, expert in predictive modeling especially in forest dynamics and forest fire behavior, of Remsoft, Inc. offers his thoughts on addressing forestry and wilderness management for fire prevention, even with limited budgets. Remsoft is a sustainable and spatial forest management planning software company.

Ugo Feunekes, expert in predictive modeling especially in forest dynamics and forest fire behavior, of Remsoft, Inc., today offered his thoughts on addressing forestry and wilderness management for fire prevention, even with limited budgets. Remsoft is a sustainable and spatial forest management planning software company.

It has been reported that many fire fighting experts have pointed to poor forestry management as part of the cause for recent record fires in places like Southern California, Arizona and Colorado. Others say that limited financial and human resources have been factors. Feunekes believes that by working together and using predictive modeling, fire fighters and forestry managers can predict potential fire hot spots and determine how areas will burn in order to plan accordingly to best control fire scenarios.

"People can model a forest or wilderness area based on how combustable it is," says Feunekes. "Certain trees burn faster and hotter than others; underbrush plays a role; and variables like wind and humidity conditions have impact. Sometimes where a place burns is not so much a condition of what that stand is but of what is upwind of the stand. All these can be predicted, and simulations can tell fire fighters what areas are most likely to burn and in what pattern based on given conditions."

Feunekes has spearheaded research and development to make it possible for fire risk and fire behavior to be integrated into forest management modeling--a long-standing barrier in the industry due to differences in data, models and more. He councils forest managers and affiliated fire authorities on how to help make fire-smart landscapes a part of forest modeling. He offers these tips:

  • Work Together - The fire authority and forestry management typically are different branches of government. People in charge of fighting fires and managing forests and wilderness areas are two different sets of people. If these functions cannot be combined into one organization, then work to share data.
  • Modify Fuel Layout - Wherever possible, the best thing to do is modify the fuel layout, so when fires break out, they are not as intense. Predictive modeling software provides data on how vegetation grows. For example, authorities can model how a stand will burn over time, even over decades; a four-foot tree behaves differently than a 40-foot tree. Modeling also can take into account wind, humidity, etc., to predict how areas would burn. Once an area has been modeled, it can be modified through planting species that do not burn as intensely and thinning growth. Even in areas where indigenous species must be maintained, controlled burns and thinning are extremely helpful in preventing runaway fires.
  • Identify Potential Hot Spots Before They Burn - If the resources are not available to modify the fuel layout, use predictive models to run scenarios and know what places are likely to burn first or most intensely. Focus fire fighting resources on those areas when fires break out.

"If you take ten to 15 percent of trees in a stand away, that opens it up and means the fire won't be as intense and maybe makes it more manageable to fight a fire situation. It could prevent the joining of one or more fires," explains Feunekes.

"The concept of using predictive models to gauge how different types of vegetation will burn and to what intensities is unique, because people rarely look at modeling fuel types. Traditionally, people model for other factors," says Feunekes.

He added that fire managers have their models, and forest planners and analysts have theirs. In the past, there was not a way to sufficiently integrate the uncertainty of fire into forest models. This is because the two camps have different ways of doing things. "With the software extensions we have worked on, we can bridge that divide to assess the risk of fire, its behaviors and improve long-term management plans," he says.

Feunekes is available for immediate comment. Please contact Donna St. Jean Conti at 949-367-1416 (Pacific Standard Time) or Sandi MacKinnon at 800-792-9468 (Atlantic Standard Time) to schedule an interview or request additional information.

About Ugo Feunekes, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer:
Ugo Feunekes is a founding partner of Remsoft. He is executive vice president and chief technology officer. Feunekes is responsible for Remsoft's research and development program, plus overall product development. He plays a leading role in the company's training, start-up service and maintenance programs.

Under his direction, the Remsoft Spatial Planning System has become widely-used by resource managers in public and private sector organizations around the world.

Born and raised in Southern Ontario, Feunkes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from Lakehead University of Thunder Bay, Ontario; a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and mathematics from the School of Computer Science at McGill University of Montreal, Quebec; and a Master of Science degree in forestry from the University of New Brunswick. Prior to establishing Remsoft, Feunekes was a consultant with R/EMS Research Ltd, an environmental consultancy in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where he was responsible for developing computer applications to address forest and wildfire management issues.

About Remsoft:
Remsoft software is considered the standard in forestry management with over 250 licenses managing over 300-million acres of forestland on five continents. The strength of its software lies in its flexibility. It enables analysts to build models their own way in order to meet the specific needs of their regions. Applications range from carbon sequestration, animal habitat management, biodiversity, soil and water quality, to aesthetic and recreation values, and forestland certification. Call Toll Free - 1 800 792 9468. Remsoft is located at 77 Westmorland Street, Suite 160, Frederick Square in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 6Z3.


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