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COVALEX Community: Fighting forest fires and their devastating consequences

By project COVALEX staffPublished on

Forest fires represent a major problem in Europe not only due to their great capacity to destroy the ecosystem in general, but also because of the great danger they pose to human life and civil protection means.

Wildfires

In the last years the number of emergencies due to forest fires has increased by about one point per year, which is concerning.

The European program of surveillanceCopernicus” includes an European system of information about forest fires, that provides historical information and in near-real time about forest fires and forest fire regimes in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. Fire surveillance in the EFFIS covers the whole cycle of a fire, providing information about the previous conditions and evaluating the further damage. 

The following image corresponds to the forest fires active on August 27, 2023. 

The image clearly shows the large number of forest fires in Europe, which despite not being one of the emergencies that takes the highest number of human lives, it is the emergency that involves the most destruction of the ecosystem. This reason, together with the fact that it is a problem that affects practically all the countries of the European Union, more specifically those in the south, makes forest fires a high priority emergency derived from climate change. COVALEX partner countries have forest fires as a high priority in the fight against climate change and civil protection emergencies derived from it.

In Spain there are institutions created with the aim of studying forest fires and mitigating them in the shortest possible time, with the lowest ecological cost. Institutions such as the Pau Costa Foundation or the Institute of Forest Sciences of the CSIC belonging to the Spanish Government. These institutions, together with others, develop numerous projects and publications that allow a better management of forest fires.

In the 1990s, France set up a forest fire fighting observatory, generating its own fire fighting strategy that not only formed the basis of a network of experts in the field, but also provided France with high technology for fighting forest fires, as well as providing extensive training for all firefighters.

Greece is a country with a high concern for this issue, being a scientific reference in this field thanks to the continuous studies that are financed, from the origin of forest fires, to protocols for evacuation of areas.

Italy suffers many forest fires, especially in southern areas such as Sicily, Calabria, Sardinia... so both the scientific community and government institutions such as the Ministry of Civil Protection and Maritime Policies are very involved in the management of emergencies in this field making great contributions both in protocols and in the study of these phenomena.

North Macedonia, is considered one of the most important training centers in the European Union in this regard, hosting in 2022 the exchange of experiences between the leading experts in forest fires, also with European projects such as FIPAS, FIREPOPTEC and CILIFO, where the most innovative actions in this field were exposed, taking into account the different forms of management.

The COVALEX Community, through its partners and stakeholders, seeks to combine all this wisdom in the fight against emergencies derived from climate change and specifically against destructive forest fires.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or DG ECHO. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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Risk drivers

Climate change

Thematic series

European forest fire season