About 95% of the forest fires in Europe are caused by people.
Together we are responsible for fire
The existing situation in the Mediterranean forests and woodlands is characterized by:
- De-population of rural areas because of better employment opportunities in urban regions and in general, remaining rural population over-aging.
- Abandoning of traditional land-uses and practices in rural areas caused by de-population.
- Reduced use of forests for raw material production
- Decrease and abandoning of traditional land-uses, such as grazing and firewood collection.
- Increase in use of wildland areas for recreational use.
- Increased occurrence of forest-urban interface conflict.
These unplanned changes in the land, have resulted in the re-emerging of past conflicts between people, as well as the development of new ones, which have now settled in various ways.
Fire has now become an increasingly-violent tool in these conflict situations.
Climate change will very likely increase the length and severity of the fire season, as well as the extension of areas of risk. Extreme conditions are likely to increase in many areas and with it the probability of large fires. Recurrent droughts and reduced precipitation are likely to imperil ecosystem regeneration after fire.
Considering the increase in forest biomass loading, forest standardization and growing urbanization, fire now threatens large forests as well as urban areas. As the risk of large, devastating fires increases, the worst is expected during each dry summer.
The incidence of forest fires thus appears to be (not surprisingly) high throughout the Mediterranean region, but also in western France, Poland and further north to Finland and Sweden.
Humans are the main cause of fire.
Negligence is responsible for 90% of all wildfires. Agricultural and forestry activities, children and barbecues are only a few cause of fire.
Important indirect causes affecting the occurrence, behaviour and effects of wildfires are related to climatic factors.
Other majors fire causes are related to the fuel (i.e. the vegetation) characteristics in terms of biomass and its spatial distribution, as well as to its exposure to fire.
Fire is an ancient phenomenon. Fire is a method used in the old days to gain land from the forest. Fire helps some plants - "pyrophytes" plants like pine tree or the kermes oak – which evolve in fire-adapted or fire-dependent ecosystems.
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