FLIRE foresees two preparatory actions, which aim to the planning structure for the successful implementation of the proposed work and to the identification of the current status of the study area.
Action A.1. Technical planning
focuses on the design of an implementation plan which will be the key reference for the successful management and implementation of FLIRE and for the efficient evaluation of the project’s progress.
Action A.2. Identification of the current status of the study area
focuses on the presentation of the existing conditions in the study area (in terms of its hydrological, geomorphological, hydrolithological and fire risk status in its rural part and urbanization and development rate in its urban cells), as well as in the identification of any factors that hinder efficient flash flood and forest fire risk assessment and management in Eastern Attica so far.
Such factors include:
The comprehensive survey for the study area and the consultation with local authorities and stakeholders will start from the very beginning of FLIRE in order to ensure the identification of all existing issues which will allow a more customized and targeted FLIRE implementation to maximize project’s impact.
- Physical/technical particularities of the study area such as: specific physical, morphological, topographical characteristics that may pose constraints to integrated flood and fire risk assessment and management (e.g. push the required early warning time below the response possibilities of the monitoring network).
- Knowledge gaps: Due to lack of holistic approach of floods and forest fires to date in the area, stakeholders may have insufficient information on the interdependence between floods and fires. Therefore sufficient information needs to be disseminated in order to ensure active participation of stakeholders in FLIRE.
- nstitutional and governance barriers: gaps exist between the jurisdiction of stakeholders pertinent for floods and stakeholders pertinent for forest fires. A detailed stakeholder mapping exercise is undertaken highlighting information and decision flows between different stakeholders to identify potential barriers. Another important mismatch that is going to be investigated at this stage is the gap between power and interest, which is often observed when institutional stakeholders that have the power to employ measures have no vested interest to select appropriate measures due to a disassociation of jurisdictions.
The collected information will also serve as a reference for the initial conditions in the study area. Extended and accurate datasets necessary for effective catchment and urban flooding and fire modelling will be gathered for the Eastern Attica area. Datasets include inter alia detailed topographic data (accurate Digital Elevation Model, detailed hydrographic network etc.), land use data, geological and hydrolithological maps, urban planning maps, demographic data and any relevant information on urban development. In situ field trips will support the gathering of additional information reflecting the existing conditions just before implementation actions start. Field surveys will be organized in order to collect vegetation and forest fuel data (data concerning the downed vegetation and dead biomass accumulation which normally carries the fire). In addition, identification and mapping of the horizontal distribution of the vegetation in layers such as herbs, shrubs and tree crowns will be validated through field visits and map calibration procedures.
Further to the systematic collection of all necessary datasets and planned field trips, a thorough literature review is being undertaken to fill any remaining knowledge gap either on the existing conditions in the study area or in ways to tackle problems related with limited availability of datasets for flood and fire risk assessment and management.
NTUA has already performed hydrological analyses in selected parts of the study area, including undergraduate and postgraduate thesis and relevant research activities. Additionally, NTUA operates since 2005 the Hydrological Observatory of Athens (HOA), a network of automatic telemetric hydrometeorological stations that monitor the hydrometeorological conditions of the greater Athens area, including the Eastern Attica region, and distributes the data at a near real-time basis to the general public through its website.
A great variety of relevant data (studies, historical time series of hydrometeorological data and statistical data) gathered from previous work will support the successful identification of the current hydrological status of Eastern Attica.
ALGO will work on the creation of a spatial database with the vegetation, fuel and other fire-related data and the production of the respective map layers including the forest fuel map. This work includes dataset collection which apart from meteorological information focus on map data (hard copy and digital form) concerning topography, vegetation, fire statistics, infrastructures type and location, settlements, properties, fire monitoring network (watch towers location, visibility etc), values at risk etc.
The forest fuel map creation is based on satellite data, vegetation maps and field data.
Main parameters for characterizing forest fuels are the fuel load per unit area and the size distribution of the fuel components (smaller fuel size dries more easily and is more dangerous to start and carry the fire) in the fuel bed. These parameters will be mapped (Fig. A2b) using ecological criteria (vegetation type and zone) and validated based on field work in the area. The fuel map that will be produced will be based on the PROMETHEUS fuels typology (Fig. A2c) or more recent (ArcFuel), although alternative forest fuel classification data sets e.g. NFFL (Fig. A2d) will be also considered during testing. In any case, fuel parameters will be adapted if needed, based on the data collected and the results of the propagation model performance using data from previous fire events.
Visibility analysis will be applied in Eastern Attica, considering the existing network of watchtowers for early fire detection and any automatic facility that operates for this purpose. The results of the analysis will be combined with the forest fuel map of the area and the layer of the values at risk for defining the level of exposure (to the risk of fire) and create a vulnerability layer according to the type of the values and their respective performance to fire. Administrative and satellite data will be used for the estimation of the values of the risk layer.
The results of the vulnerability analysis will be included in a report of this task which will be used as a base for proposing structural and non-structural measures for improving the performance of fire prevention in the area. This process leads to assess the so called “structural risk” of forest fire which is related with the geographic area and the type of vegetation and which lies behind a fire danger index, influenced also by the variation of the meteorological parameters and the relevant cumulative effect of such variations. Thus, regarding the fire risk assessment, a map representing the structural fire risk will be produced.
In order to identify the factors that restrained similar studies in the past, NTUA and ALGO, undertake consultation activities with stakeholders and local authorities. Several meetings with local authorities and stakeholders, including focus groups with members of civil protection agencies and researchers that have worked on similar work in the past, are planned in order to identify hidden issues and constraints (either hard, in terms of physical characteristics or soft, in terms of institutional arrangements).