A computer software program to estimate the economic impact of wildfires for European countries

Wildfires continue to represent a significant cost to the economy of countries affected by this problem. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Euros are invested, directly or indirectly, to prevent or suppress forest fires and to repair the damage produced. In order to justify this substantial expenditure, it is important to estimate the fire damage and to evaluate alternative policies or management programmes, and as such to provide a useful tool for the decisions-making process. The software developed in the context of the Fire Paradox’s project by the Forestal Technologic Centre of Catalonia (CTFC) in close collaboration with the Slovenian Forest Institute (SFI), will help to estimate the cost of the various expenditure-categories affected by the forest fires.

Product's leader

Robert Mavsar
Robert Mavsar
CTFC, Barcelona, Spain

Who will be interested in this product and why?

First of all it should be noted that the software is at this stage only a prototype and that further development will be required to make it more “user friendly”, but that it can be used to solve day to day problems. However, the software offers a good opportunity for professionals dealing with fire management and planning to learn more about the wide range of possible economic impacts of forest fires and the application of different fire management alternatives. It can also be mentioned that the software could also serve the policy maker to better understand the costs related to forest fires.

What are the innovative features?

The main innovation is the inclusion of non-marketable goods and services into the estimations. Such goods and services cannot be sold in traditional markets and subsequently have no market value (e.g. biodiversity, fixation of CO2). However, people do benefit from them and they are thus important for the well-being of the society. Thus, when such goods and services are damaged or lost as a result of forest fires, they should be considered when estimating the social and economic impact of fires.

How does it serve the European cause with respect to the philosophy of Fire Paradox?

The software can be applied in most European countries. However, it should be mentioned that the data availability and quality varies significantly, which influences the reliability of the results.
With regard to the Fire Paradox project’s philosophy, which is to promote the wise use of fire to combat the problem of forest fires in Europe, the software in one of its modules also introduces this technique as one of the alternatives.

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General objectives

This software aims to:

- estimate the economic impact of forest fires,
- assist to predict the economic impact of forest fires,
- to compare the efficiency of alternative fire management scenarios;

The software will make it possible to apply a fast assessment of the economic impact of forest fires. An alternative will be, to apply a more analytical approach, based on a detailed description of goods damaged by the fire, or services affected.
The target groups will be those interested in economic aspects of forest fires as well as those interested in the efficiency of fire management measures, namely policy makers, forest owners, managers and planners, as well as fire fighters.

Innovative aspects: Data about the costs of economic impact of wildfires for Europe available in "Fire Cost".

The "Fire Cost" software can be applied in different parts of Europe. By including the social costs and benefits (e.g. loss of public goods) it aims to extend the estimation of damages caused by forest fires beyond the "traditional" approach, where only lost timber was considered as a loss. At the same time as a decision-support tool, which can be used to select the most useful management options for limited financial resources. Later on this software will be integrated to the Fire Paradox "Fire Intuition Information Management Platform", an information system to manage European data on wildfires.

Major results

The main results of the research preformed within this and related tasks are:
- a model for the estimation of damages caused by forest fires,
- an evaluation framework for the identification of efficiency of different fire management activities;
- identification of the public opinion with regard to fire management and related issues, in certain European countries.

Fire Cost Screenshot

Fire Cost
Analitical approach

Fire Cost

Fire Cost - http//

Online Multimedia Plateform : Prototype