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Fires: the College on the Coimbra Science Summit

The international scientific reference congress on forest fires took place in Portugal. 500 researchers from many countries took part, including representatives from the University of Corsica, whose work also serves as an example in a changing context.

The event only takes place every 4 years and will be in its tenth edition in 2026. Last week, the Portuguese city of Coimbra hosted the ninth. Apparently, more than ever, the “International Conference on Wildfire Research” is valued by the world’s leading scientists addressing a topic considered appropriate to a climate crisis and the risks it poses. “Nobody wants to miss this meeting”, emphasizes Jean-Louis Rossi, lecturer at the University of Corsica and expert on the United Nations, who was part of a particularly large delegation from the Corten campus, whose members presented a good ten works, with a focus on the Goliath project that unites them with others partners. In addition, the 2022 edition of this congress was attended by around 500 researchers from the United States, Australia, China, Indonesia, most European countries and even the African continent. A participation that revealed the extent of scientific research on wildfires, based on often differing doctrines and approaches, but now sharing a common denominator dictated by major planetary issues.

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“All countries are focused on a common goal”

“Of course such an event reveals differences, but what is interesting believes Jean-Louis Rossi, All researchers working in this field around the world are now focused on the same goal, aware of the impact of climate change and the new context closely linked to the risks of major fires. Everyone has become aware of the need to come in order around this common theme. This leads to the labs opening up and sharing knowledge and experience.” Interventions and exchanges have shown this visibly: The “everything for the fight” has had its day in favor of a more global method that integrates regional planning, prevention, the populations involved and rulers on a global level.

The University of Corsica obviously has its place in this new scientific era, in which the UN in particular favors orientations dictated by the imperatives of risk reduction. “In hindsight, we realize that the choice of Professor Jacques-Henri Balbi for his university was opportune for research into forest fires, observes Jean-Louis Rossi. The choice of transversality, which included many disciplines for different works. From the physico-chemical properties of the vegetation to the correct sizing of the tank cups. This option was beneficial because we mastered independently, even if we progressed more slowly than the labs that focused on a single axis. We were less efficient in the niches, but the context that is emerging today proves us right.”

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