Fighting fire with math and maps

1. Sustainability Problem: Forest fires in California have increased in frequency and magnitude. This is causing increased loss of human life and property. After the forest fires subside, Forest Department prunes/ cuts down trees in uniform manner, similar to farming, to avoid future fires. However, this results in artificial spacial patterns among trees thereby increasing chances of disease, fire and loss of biodiversity. It is important to mimic natural forest patterns, to avoid these issues and to enable forests to survive on their natural resilience. However, there is no easily available technology for this.

Category: Safety & Health, Waste

2. Technology: QuickMap – A forestry app

  • University of Washington has developed an app called QuickMap which uses statistics and GIS data to randomize tree patterns, to closely mimic nature, based on which foresters can prune trees, to avoid future fires.
  • An experienced 2 person team can mark 10-20 acres of land per day, which is quick.
  • It will take time for tree removal and for the forest to take over the job – growing, seeding new areas, and dying back from others – but this approach gives the forest a head start at creating healthier, more resilient conditions.

3. Organizational Stakeholders: Forest Department, Policy makers, Academic institutions

4. Next steps for deployment:

  • Train forest staff in use of the app and GIS.
  • Create synergistic partnerships between academic institutions in the country, to increase availability of GIS data and to adapt it to other forest types
  • Create policy to ensure this app is used in all forests in the country

5. Comment on another article: IceEnergy

Comment: Ice banks have traditionally been used in the dairy industry, to avoid peak demand. Recently few building complexes have started installing icebanks.


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