January 20, 2016 - 8:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - Two Thompson Rivers University faculty members are going to bring their knowledge of wildfire management techniques overseas next month.
Senior lecturer Dr. John Karakatsoulis and associate professor Dr. Wendy Gardner, both natural resource science faculty members, plan to lead Nepalese researchers from Katmandu Forestry College and members of various resource ministries.
Canadian International Development Research Centre is funding the two-year project with a $59,000 grant.
“Fire frequency in Nepal is increasing. The concern is that more and more fires are burning and as a result they’re losing more livestock and more structures,” Karakatsoulis says.
To tackle the issue, the researchers have developed a plan they say will help ground capacity and manage resources to deal with additional risks not faced in Kamloops.
“We have world-class, paramilitary-style training, and we’re going into a country where fire management includes shovels and hoses. They don’t have air capacity, they don’t have access roads; we need to come up with a management plan that will work with the resources available,” Karakatsoulis says.
Nepal does not have support to fight a wildfire from the air; all the battling is done on the ground which can lead to more challenges. An April 2015 earthquake destroyed access roads and coupled with a rainy wildfire season there are further risks of landslides and severe flooding.
Still, the researchers remain motivated. As part of the plan, they hope to bring Nepalese wildfire managers back to Kamloops for training purposes. With further education, Karakatsoulis and Gardner believe it would ultimately reduce risks and create a better defence for the future.
Both have taken part in wildfire management in Kamloops, including prescribed burns used in Kenna Cartwright Park last year.
Natural sciences professor John Karakatsoulis.
(JENNIFER STAHN /InfoTel Multimedia)
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