The rationale for the publications of this volume is the motivation of the authors, which have been driven from two different perspectives.
The reason for the first author to initiate writing this book was to share experiences of wildfire investigation in South Africa over two decades. This included private ad-hoc investigations of relative small uncontrolled fires, to the investigation of large wildfires, which crossed a number of properties. Most of these tasks entered either in arbitration processes, settlements between parties (with or without legal assistance), appointments of expert witnesses in high courts, with subsequent court attendances (or settlements), and special investigation tasks conducted for government institutions or insurance companies. The experience gained during this period was very wide, with no single fire being equal to the next, which provided a wealth of information, including specific wildfire reconstructing processes with the use of advanced technology, with the assistance of GIS, satellite-derived information and more. These experiences form the backbone of this volume.
The motivation for the second author to join this book project was the recognition of the need to bring the expertise of the first author to other regions and countries of the world as a contribution to support the endeavor of the United Nations (UN) and its affiliated processes and networks, notably the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the Global Wildland Fire Network, to reduce the impacts of wildfires at global level for the benefit of the global environment and humanity. The Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), which is serving as secretariat and facilitator of the Global Wildland Fire Network and its representation to the UNISDR, the Wildland Fire Advisory Group, joined the book project in order to enrich national expertise by international insights and bring this to international use and benefit.
In following up the UNECE/FAO Regional Forum on Crossboundary Fire Management (UN Geneva, November 2013), in which representatives of the UNECE and other regions of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, met to develop visions and concrete action to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in fire management by exchange of experience and expertise among nations, the International Wildfire Preparedness Mechanism (IWPM) was launched in 2014. The IWPM, hosted by the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), is a non-financial instrument serving as a broker / facilitator between national and international agencies, programmes and projects to exchange expertise and build capacities in wildland fire management and particularly in enhancing preparedness to large wildfire emergency situations.
Wildfire investigation is an essential component of fire management since it contributes to clarify the origins and causes wildfires, but more importantly, to unveil possible deficits in fire management, gaps that should be closed by appropriate capacity building.
Sedgefield (South Africa) and Freiburg (Germany), 31 January 2015
Cornelis de Ronde and Johann Georg Goldammer