Harvard University students try to help prevent wildfires in Coimbra region

Students have been working since last month, as part of “Canary in the Mine” project

Harvard University researchers have returned to the Coimbra region as part of the Canary in the Mine project – devised to develop solutions to make landscapes more resistant to fire. 

Arganil municipality signalled the return of the renowned university which began working in the region in the aftermath of 2017s devastating wildfires.

Says a press release: “Two students have been working in the parishes of Cepos and Teixeira since mid-July under the guidance of Sílvia Benedito”, landscape architect and the Harvard professor leading this initiative.

For a month, the tasks of Daniella Slowik and Sophia Glasser-Kerr will focus on the development of the themes “soil and water”, as fundamental elements “for adaptation to climate change and for the identity of the traditional landscape”.

The creation of this project was based on some of the conclusions drawn from the 2017 fires – the low involvement of the people living in the area in the implementation of mitigation measures and the abandonment of traditional cultural practices.

The ongoing fieldwork will culminate with a public session aimed at the community, in which conclusions and proposals will be presented, “with the aim of increasing the involvement of the resident population in the implementation of measures to mitigate climate change and the consequences of rural fires”.

The partnership between Arganil council, the Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra (IPC) and Harvard University, through Professor Sílvia Benedito, also brings together the parishes of Cepos and Teixeira.

Cooperation work began in 2018 with the “Community Fellowship” project, developed in the parish of Benfeita by two students with Masters in Landscape Architecture.

The project culminated in the elaboration and edition by the municipality of the “Almanac of Benfeita” and in the staging of an interactive exhibition “O que leva a levada”, held in the old Quinta do Dr. Urbano and other spaces in the village of Benfeita.

Source: LUSA