Sicily’s wildfire crisis: Erice’s prevention model

The latest disastrous fire, a week ago in Castellammare del Golfo, has destroyed 30% of the trees on Mount Inici. This is another tragedy that worsens the damage balance in Sicily. Just in the summer of 2023, fires have devoured more than 51 thousand hectares, mostly cultivated fields. A surface area more than double compared to all the other Italian regions combined, which have overall sacrificed just over 23 thousand hectares to the flames. This is why radical measures are needed and it is necessary to enforce existing regulations and work on new tools to fight the phenomenon. An important contribution came from Erice, where the prevention and protection system has been effective in recent seasons, and where an important conference was held yesterday (Friday 15/03/2024) at the Dirac room of the Blackett Institute – San Domenico Ettore Majorana Foundation, organized by the Municipality of Erice, titled “Forest Fires. Why”.

An entire day, organized by the Municipality of Erice in collaboration with the Rotary Club Trapani-Erice, dedicated to forest fires during which, thanks to the contributions of exceptional speakers, experts from the scientific world and authorities, it was possible to delve into all aspects related to the theme. Nine hours of reflection, interspersed with a pleasant refreshment moment made possible thanks to the collaboration with the Ignazio and Vincenzo Florio higher education institute in Erice, whose students prepared an excellent lunch for the guests.

The psychological, psychiatric, and emotional aspects that lead the arsonist to set fires were explored thanks to the interventions of Dr. Francesca Bartoccini, systemic relational psychotherapist and emergency psychologist, as well as president of MaydayItalia (“The arson act: The profile of the arsonist”) and Luigi De Luca, director of the Catania training center of the Cnvvff (“Symbolism and fascination of fire: psychosocial aspects of the arson act). The legal aspects were dissected by Antonella Trainito, deputy prosecutor at the Trapani Prosecutor’s Office (“The new structure of the crime of forest arson”), by the senior commissioner of the Sicily forestry corps, Luca Ferlito, and by the lieutenant colonel of the forest carabinieri, Andrea Li Volsi.

Great space was also given to the naturalistic aspects: Donato Salvatore La Mela Veca, associate professor in silviculture and forest planning at the University of Palermo, and Gianluigi Pirrera, vice president of AIPIN – Italian Association for Naturalistic Engineering, expert teacher in naturalistic engineering, (“Multifunctionality of photo traps for Civil Protection uses and prevention”). The globality of the phenomenon was highlighted by Fabrizio Zichichi, member of the Board of Directors of the Ettore Majorana Foundation and the Center for Scientific Culture ets (“Fires, a planetary emergency”). The contributions of Antonio Parrinello, head of the regional Civil Protection Service in the province of Trapani, and of the Civil Protection volunteers Marco and Antonino Stefano who recounted their volunteering experience and denunciation of an arson act through the installation of a photo trap were also highly appreciated.

Institutional greetings were brought by Luciano Zanta Platamone, deputy chief of staff of the Trapani prefecture, the mayor of Erice Daniela Toscano Pecorella, the councilor with responsibility for Civil Protection Paolo Genco, the deputy commander of the Trapani fire brigade, Vito Pipitone, the chief of the Trapani Forestry Corps, Francesco Trapani, the journalist and provincial secretary of Assostampa, Vito Orlando, who provided the perspective related to the world of information, the commander of the local police Giacomo Ippolito, and the inspector Vincenzo Varvara. Also, regional deputies Cristina Ciminnisi and Dario Safina, and the mayor of Custonaci, Fabrizio Fonte, who is also a journalist, intervened.

During the conference, a video contribution provided by the Minister for Civil Protection and Maritime Policies, Nello Musumeci, was shown, while the conclusions were entrusted to the regional councilor for territory and the environment, Elena Pagana. Their contributions were also highly appreciated. Representatives of authorities, law enforcement, firefighters, the volunteer world, and citizens attended the conference.

During the day, the “Cuore e fiamme” project of the Rotary Club Trapani-Erice was also presented, which proceeded to deliver a fire prevention module, a defibrillator, and some first aid supplies to the Humanitas ODV Civil Protection association. The delivery was made by the Governor of District 2110, Goffredo Vaccaro, and the president of the Rotary Club Trapani-Erice, Vito Agosta.

It should be noted that, at the opening of the event, an exciting video was screened, created by journalist Mario Torrente with editing by Fabrizio Calamia and the voice of Nicola Rach (from the Telesud Trapani television station).

“I believe that this important day of reflection has been productive and useful – commented the mayor, Daniela Toscano Pecorella -. During these nine hours, experts in the field and authorities who brought their testimonies and insights that will undoubtedly be taken into consideration and accepted by both the national and regional governments. I thank Minister Musumeci for the contribution he provided and Councilor Elena Pagana for understanding the importance of the conference and for participating with a passionate and intelligent speech. Thanks to all the speakers for their availability and patience. Thanks to the Rotary Club Trapani-Erice for the beautiful gesture towards the Humanitas ODV association and for the collaboration. Finally, thanks to the municipal staff for organizing the event and, in particular, Giuseppe Tilotta for strongly wanting this day and for taking care of every detail with passion and determination”.

“On behalf of the national government, I express appreciation for the initiative and for the quality of the speakers in what is an important moment of discussion and debate,” said Minister Musimeci in his speech. “On this issue, we need to reflect and discuss, identify strategies, solutions that can also allow our Sicily to escape, or at least mitigate, the harmful consequences of a phenomenon that now knows no bounds.

On my part, maximum availability and attention to the conference topics, and especially to the proposals that will emerge from the debate. I will be very happy to receive, through the organizers, any suggestions, even in terms of regulatory modification or revision, to be brought to the attention of the Department of Civil Protection and the Government. I am certain that further stimuli and contributions will emerge from this day of discussion. Thanks to the Municipality of Erice and the Rotary Trapani-Erice”.

“The watchword must be strategy, in order to adapt to climate change, to collaborate between institutions and between departments of the Sicilian Region,” said Councilor Pagana. “I am however certain of one thing and, in this sense, I make my own a phrase from the senior commissioner of the Sicily Forestry Corps, Luca Ferlito: there is an organized legality. For every arsonist, there are 100 decent people who counteract fires. Participation is fundamental, and citizens have a central role. The fire prevention campaign must be carried out throughout the year and must involve everyone. I envision Sicilians who, attached to their territory, become its custodians. I return home richer after a good day of study and discussion, certain that positive solutions will emerge from this conference.”

“In the photo, the mayor of Erice, Daniela Toscano”

La catastrofe degli incendi in Sicilia, il modello di Erice per la prevenzione

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