Between 2017 and 2020, fires have killed hundreds of persons and ravaged forests and Natura 2000 sites not only in Southern Europe, but increasingly also in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe.
The Green Deal explicitly calls to “reduce the incidence and extent of forest fires”. It also calls “to boost the EU’s ability to predict and manage environmental disasters” as an immediate priority. Large-scale and more intense wildfires are becoming an increasing concern. Fire is a natural component in many ecosystems across Europe but more and more Europeans suffer directly and indirectly from wildfires.
In addition to the extraordinary socioeconomic impact in terms of loss of human lives of residents and first responders, health, infrastructures and economic activity, extreme wildfire events have also serious and sometimes irreversible ecological impacts when considering soil degradation, water scarcity and biodiversity loss.
The new context of extreme wildfires requires accelerating the shift towards implementing a more holistic fire management approach that integrates environmental, climate, health & safety/security, cultural and socio-economic aspects with:
- research, demonstration and deployment of innovative means and methods tailored to extreme wildfire behaviour, such as better and more advanced techniques, models, solutions and capabilities for preventing, predicting, monitoring and fighting wildfires, and mitigating their impact, including better and advanced technologies, equipment and decision support systems for first responders;
- proactive governance, change of forest management practices, large-scale and community-based risk assessments, awareness and preparedness – where citizens, local communities, the forestry and bio-economy sectors play a central role.
26 January 2020 at 17:00 Brussels time