Silva Mediterranea

Over 90 years of Mediterranean forest management

Forest Fire Management in the Mediterranean - News

Every year, deliberate fires and wildfires burn millions of hectares of forests and other vegetation, causing loss of lives with immense economic damage and high suppression costs. These damaging wildfires are not an unprecedented emergency event. They are a symptom of past policy, planning and governance that have created a context where ignition, spreading fires and damage and loss result.

The occurrence and impacts of forest fires cannot be avoided, but they can be significantly reduced with Integrated Fire Management by applying fire-smart approaches and processes that “integrate” socio-cultural realities and ecological imperatives into landscapes. Consequently, FAO and Silva Mediterranea recognise an approach is needed to systematically analyse the fire problem, identify the needs and select the appropriate strategies, planning tools and tactics to meet the requirements, monitor their implementation, enable continuous improvement, reduce vulnerability and underpin resilience.

While all the afore-mentioned is true, Silva Mediterranea and FAO also recognize that fire is a natural element and part of many forest ecosystems and other landscapes as well as a traditional management tool in rural areas.

What is the ecological role, impact, social, cultural and economic context in which fires are occurring? Who is starting fires and why? What are the fuels and how do fires behave? What are the underlying causes of the fire problem, such as land tenure issues, illegal logging, invasive species or climate change?

In order to answer these prerogatives, truly understand the value and the problem of fire and the importance of this element in the Mediterranean region, FAO’s fire management work includes lessons learned from Community Based Fire Management and traditional fire knowledge, wildfire risk reduction and support for long-term climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Through its Fire Management Strategy, developed in 2018, FAO is working with partners in the Mediterranean and globally, to strengthen the interaction between science and policy to make efficient use of data to better understand fire history and wildfire risk; to strengthen knowledge of the economic impacts of disasters; and identify preventive policies to reduce the risks of wildfire disasters.

Working across the region in support of rural land management for sustainability, prevention to reduce the risk of wildfire and coordinated review and research providing for management needs FAO’s activities include:

  • The Near East and North Africa Fire Management Network Meeting in Tunis and then Fire Management Training for the network in Beirut February 2019
  • Supporting Algeria to prepare an analysis of fire management with Japan funding further work on a Fire Management Strategy and training in fire cause identification in 2019.
  • Supporting an assessment of fires in Morocco and preparation of a National Strategy for Protection and Fire Management for Forests
  • Working with the Sudan UN-REDD Project on a fire history and initiate the development of a Fire Management Strategy and a Fire Monitoring System
  • In Europe
    • Engage on fire management issues with Portugal, Spain and Greece,
    • Provide input to the EFI and Pau Costa Foundation for a workshop on Mitigating wildfire risks through socioeconomically viable landscape approaches to be held in Madrid, in October.
    • Participate in the Expert Group on Forest Fires of the EC that Mediterranean countries are also members of
  • FAO have also been working with the JRC, GOFC-GOLD, NASA and others on a Fire Management Dashboard so countries can readily access fire history based on satellite data for review, analysis, stakeholder engagement and planning. This will be discussed at a side-event on the Global Wildfire Information System during the International Wildland Fire Conference to be held in Brazil starting on 28th October where the Mediterranean Region Position on Wildfires, prepared by Silva Mediterranea working group on forest fires, will also be presented.

FAO Fire Management continues to look for ways to identify, connect and support partners, ideas and processes for integrating fire management around the Mediterranean, linked across the world.

last updated:  Monday, October 14, 2019