The Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, with funding and support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), conducted training in Beirut on the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program from May 8 to May 11, 2012.
WHAT IS BAER?
The objectives of the BAER program are to determine the needs for emergency treatments following a wildland fire, to prescribe them, and to implement them on burned areas when necessary. The program also helps minimize threats to life or property or to stabilize and prevent further unacceptable degradation to natural and cultural resources resulting from the effects of a fire.
HOW DOES IT FUNCTION?
A BAER assessment team maps and assesses soil and watershed conditions in the burned area, evaluates downstream values at risk from increased erosion and flooding, and if necessary, prescribes treatments to mitigate threats to life, property, natural and cultural resources.
ABOUT THE TRAINING
Fifteen Lebanese professionals, with expertise in soil and watershed management, ecosystem health, reforestation, fire management, and land management; attended the trainings. The trainers; who are both experienced U.S. professionals; focused the discussion on the mapping and assessment of the burned area, including mapping of soil burn severity using remote sensing and traditional manual methods, modeling expected increases in runoff and erosion from the burned area using several common methods, identifying values at risk, and development of treatment prescriptions, as necessary, to mitigate threats to those values at risk.
Despite their different academic backgrounds, participants were very responsive and showed a great deal of interest in the subjects discussed. During the day-and-a-half field visit, the trainees also learned how to assess a Burned Area Reflectance Classification (BARC) map and got acquainted with the infiltrometer device used to measure soil water repellency and infiltrations. They left with detailed documents and field guides as well as well-earned completion certificates.
The training will hopefully lead to the creation of an informal BAER expert team in Lebanon to help assess the needs of post-fire management.