Interview with Eytan Krasilovsky, Forest Guild
Forest Guild recently hosted a prescribed fire training exchange in New Mexico. Can you tell us about the training exchange?
The Forest Guild is pursuing a collaborative approach to forest restoration. Our main partner is the New Mexico State Land Office along with local fire departments, non-profits, communities, businesses and the Nature Conservancy’s Fire Learning Network. Returning fire to the ecosystem is part of that process. Pioneered by the Nature Conservancy’s Fire Learning Network, and with their guidance, the Forest Guild has now for two years in a row coordinated multi-agency and partner prescribed burns that train both first time firefighters, provide training opportunities for professional firefighters, and help rural communities become more fire adapted.
As wildfires become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, how do such trainings help communities respond and adapt?
We know from historical records that pre-date the 1880s, and from the empirical tree-ring evidence, low-intensity fire shaped the forested landscapes of the Southwest. Since fire suppression became national policy at the turn of the 20th century, our forests have become overgrown and currently cannot support the unhealthy amount of trees on them. We now need to redefine our relationship to wildfire that acknowledges the ecological role of fire, and promotes proven and innovative ways to help communities live with and adapt to wildfire.
What impacts has climate change already had on forests and wildfires?
Already we are seeing larger and more destructive wildfires. This is coupled with the last 20 years of human development in formerly undeveloped forested areas. Together these factors have created an unwieldy problem.