Wildfires Declining In Southern Europe

by P. Homewood, March 28, 2019 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat

1. Introduction Fires are an integral component of ecosystem dynamics in European landscapes. However, uncontrolled fires cause large environmental and economic damages, especially in the Mediterranean region. On average, about 65000 fires occur in Europe every year, burning approximately half a million ha of wildland and forest areas; most of the burnt area, over 85%, is in the European Mediterranean region. Trends in number of fires and burnt areas in the Mediterranean region are presented in Fig. 1. Recent analyses of the available data in the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) show that over 95% of the fires in Europe are human-induced. The split of causes shows that most of them are due to misuse of traditional practices of straw burning of shrub-burning to recover areas for cattle feeding. Although European countries have collected information on forest fires since 1970s, the lack of harmonized information at the European level has prevented a holistic approach for forest fire prevention in the Region. The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) has been developed jointly by the European Commission (EC) services (Directorate General Environment and the Joint Research Centre) and the relevant fires services in the countries (forest fires and civil protection services) in response to the needs of European bodies such as the Monitoring and Information Centre of Civil Protection, the European Commission Services and the European Parliament. EFFIS is a comprehensive system covering the full cycle of forest fire management, from forest fire prevention and preparedness to post-fire damage analysis (see Fig. 2). The system is providing information to over 30 countries in the European and Mediterranean regions, and receives detailed information of forest fire events from 22 European countries. It supports forest fire prevention and forest fire fighting in Europe through the provision of timely and reliable information on forest fires.