Nîmes Métropole : Fire prevention, abandonment and urbanisation
Start date of project01/12/2005
Municipalities in the Northern Nîmes belt
In December 2005, at a presentation of the SylvoPast case study outputs, the Gard DDAF ( Departmental Forest and Agriculture Service) suggested to adapt it to the forest fire prevention problem at the interface between urban and natural zones. The Nîmes Métropole Urban Community Environmental Service, keen to raise awareness of its elected representatives to this issue, offered its territory as a test zone.
The approach was broken down into four phases:
- Compiling available mapping data on the forest, the dynamics of urbanisation and the practices of the main local stakeholders (farmers, urban developers and foresters);
- Developing a virtual map representing three typical adjacent municipalities in the northern Nîmes belt and validating this map by a group of technicians covering the main activities found in this area;
- Co-constructing, with the same group, of a conceptual model representing the current functioning of this area and the likely dynamics over the next fifteen years, then implementing this model by INRA researchers as a multi-agent system;
- Situated simulation exercise for elected representatives from fourteen municipalities involved, in order to discuss forest fire prevention issues in conjunction with urbanisation, during five sessions of role-playing games involving an urban developer, three mayors, a DDAF officer and a representative of Nîmes Métropole (NîmetPasLeFeu role-playing game).
The initiative culminated in collective awareness of the implications, in terms of fire hazard, of expanding urbanisation at the expense of agricultural fallow lands and natural areas. The importance of reflecting collectively on setting up prevention systems was identified clearly, but the elected representatives debated long and hard on the failure to integrate these systems with town planning projects and the lack of financial resources to maintain them.
At the initiative of the Gard General Council, the process is being standardised in all municipalities concerned by the problem of forest fires. It has also been taken up by the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Council with elected representatives and technicians from Mediterranean basin regions under the Incendi InterReg project.
Nîmes Métropole Urban Community
M. Etienne, M. Bourgeois
(Inra Ecodéveloppement Avignon)