Catalyst Stuff worries. The University of Wageningen wildfire expert has been warning for years that more needs to be done to prevent severe damage from the Netherlands wildfires. But fire is not a priority.
“What do you have to do to get this on the agenda?” Stuff wonders. “Should people die before something happens?”
“There are regular minor fires in Dutch nature,” Stuff says. “More often than people think. Fortunately, the fire service can handle it well. But with some major fires it becomes very difficult. We don’t know how to deal with this.”
Enlarge and cause further destruction
Jelmer Tom, national coordinator of wildfire at the IFV, agrees. “The risk of a large and devastating wildfire is increasing in the Netherlands as well. It is not whether such a fire will happen, but when.”
In other countries, uncontrolled wildfires are already a regular occurrence this summer in Turkey, Greece and the United States. In this video you can see:
According to the Dutch Insurers Association, not only is the temperature and drought increasing, it is also more likely to cause lightning, which can cause fires. “The fire is unlikely to spread to buildings and vehicles,” the association said.
That’s why we need to work now to prevent uncontrollable fires. Dam: “For that you have to organize nature well, with as much different landscape as possible. It takes thirty to forty years. In the meantime, the climate is increasingly favorable for uncontrolled fires.”
Lessons from water
In fact, we have to deal with wildfires like floods, Stuff says: “In the Netherlands, we know how to cope with the dangers of water. National policy applies in this area and there is good cooperation. Learn many lessons from living with fire.”
“Special knowledge is needed on how to put out a large wildfire,” Stuff says. “We can learn a lot from the knowledge abroad and the experiences there.”
There is no national strategy like flooding the wildfire sector. This is because various parties are involved in the task of preventing the fire.
No one feels responsible
In the Cabinet alone, several Ministries are responsible: the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food is responsible for the fire, but the fire service comes under the Ministry of Justice and Defense. Firefighting helicopters belong to the Ministry of Defense, and climate change comes under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate.
Then there are Staatsbosbeheer and other bodies that play a similar role as provinces. Stuff: “No one feels responsible. The fight against wildfires is fragmented. In my opinion it makes a lot of sense to focus on a broader approach nationally.”
Dam: “It’s so organized in the Netherlands, but it’s not. It’s not seen as urgent, while the impact of the fire will be enormous. We are far behind the facts, all sides point to each other. The way we face it now is going to bite us in the ass.”
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