Leonor Calvo (Universidad de León) - April 8th, 2020

"Megafires as a new challenge in the EU: fire ecology knowledge to better-informed decision-making"


Forest fires are a major threat throughout Europe, producing significant impacts in our ecosystems. In the last decades, large scale and more intense wildfires area becoming an increasing concern. These extreme wildfire or megafires events are determined, among other factors, by unfavourable meteorological conditions, such as heatwaves, and the increase in fuel loads and continuity in our landscapes. So, we are faced by a new wildfire context characterised by megafires with a rapid fire spread, intense burning, and unpredictable shifts, which produce extraordinary socio-economic and ecological impacts. For this reason, land management strategies need to account for the drivers of the forest fire regimes, which help to define pre-fire effective activities, and at the same time, the ecosystems resilience to identify the most suitable post-fire management strategies in order to facilitate the recovery of the ecosystems services (regulation, cultural and provisioning) provide by these forestry landscapes. In this new scenario of megafires we must find effective and reliable multi-scale tools for (1) analising the fire regeme parametres; (2) evaluating the drives of the fire severity; (3) identifying suitable severity indicators across different ecosystem compartments (vegetation and soil) and different levels of organisation; (4) predicting the post-fire regeneration of forest ecosystems. This knowledge help us in the design of pre- and post-fire management strategies to promote the recovery of the public goods and services provided by these landscapes, which are essential to the socio-economic development of rural areas.


Degree in Biology from the University of León in 1987 and the PhD in effects of perturbations in the terrestrial ecosystems in 1993 from the University of Leon (Spain). My research interests include plant community ecology and effects of perturbations in terrestrial ecosystems. I focus on the analysis of the effects of disturbances, mainly forest fires, on the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, mainly forestry, both at the community and landscape levels. Likewise, I am interested in the analysis of the effect of atmospheric nitrogen deposition and prescribed fires on the heathlands from the Cantabrian Mountain in Spain. I was an Assistant Professor from 2001 and since 2015 I have been accredited as Full Professor of Ecology.

I coordinated 7 research projects and participated in more than 30 related to the analysis of the effects of perturbation in terrestrial ecosystems by studying the effects on the plant community and the mechanism of regeneration after perturbations.