There is no doubt that the threat of wildfires is becoming more serious as greenhouse gas emissions continue to warm the planet.
The proof? Five of ten worst forest fires in the history of the United States occurred during the last ten years. Eight of ten the biggest fires in California’s documented history have occurred since 2017.
This is a problem of colossal scale and global reach: “If wildfires were a country, they would be ranked number one. 4behind China, the United States and India in terms of carbon emissions,” Nancy Pfundfounder and managing partner of an investment company DBL The partnersdeclared in front of a large audience during a recent Canary Live Panel.
The growing urgency of this issue has given rise to a category of startups called “firetech,” a technology ecosystem that aims to address the threat of wildfires and restore the health of the world’s forests. There is a set of incumbent players, but there is also a brigade of investors dedicated to pumping money into the sector and mission-driven entrepreneurs determined to design solutions; not less than 50 American startups are currently working in this area.
The wave of fire tech companies is a good sign that investors are looking for ways to finance resilience and adaptation to climate. Resilience efforts focus on improving responses and recovery from climate-related events, while adaptation efforts refine existing systems and technologies to better respond to the evolving climate reality. It’s a segment that has historically attracted less funding than companies focused on more tangible products such as solar power or batteries. At least one investor, Convective capitalonly supports early-stage companies developing solutions to wildfires.
And DBL Ventures, a long-standing climate technology venture fund, has also begun to take an interest in this sector, with recent investments in fire technology startups. Rain And Reforestation of the mast. DBL has shown particular interest in companies working to improve fire management in the United States. According to a new report According to the venture capital firm, scaling up the use of prescribed burning, a crucial but underutilized fire prevention strategy, is a particularly promising approach.
For much of the 20th century, American fire management strategy focused on total suppression rather than complete suppression of fires. regenerative management aligned with nature. As a result, the country is home to a backlog of denser, fuel-intensive forests that are dangerously prone to catastrophic wildfires, especially in these hotter, drier times. Beneficial fires in the form of strategic controlled burns can reduce the amount of fuel sources available for a fire while preventing the growth of invasive species, which are often less tolerant of fire.
Although prescribed burns have become more widely adopted in the United States since the 1970s, the DBL The report says the urgency of the climate crisis demands a significant increase in the number of burns carried out each year, particularly in the West, where the risk of catastrophic wildfires is highest and millions of people live near forests in wild areas. urban interface. »
Prescribed burns not only reduce the risk of wildfires and confer ecological benefits, but they are also more cost-effective than other types of fuel management, such as manual or mechanical removal of leaf waste and woody materials. slaughtered.