Forest fires and the law
A guide for national drafters
based on the Fire Management
Voluntary Guidelines

Elisa Morgera
Maria Teresa Cirelli

for the  
Development Law Service - FAO Legal Office

Rome, 2009

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The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have not been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

ISBN 978-92-5-106151-0

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"Fire management" is the discipline of using fire to achieve land management and traditional use objectives, while safeguarding life, property, and resources such as forests and other vegetation in rural areas. It encompasses prevention,
preparedness, early warning, detection and mobilization, suppression, and restoration (including research and technology transfer). It entails the appropriate use of natural or human-caused fire in maintaining ecological values and the integrity of certain ecosystems, and the use of fire to reduce the accumulation of natural fuel and residues from commercial and non-commercial activities. Starting in 2003, FAO coordinated a multi-stakeholder process to develop the Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines as part of a global strategy for international cooperation in fire management. The Guidelines set out principles and internationally accepted strategic actions to address the cultural, social, environmental and economic dimensions of fire management at all levels. The Fire Management Voluntary Guidelines are the lenses through which the present study has systematically identified the elements of a coherent national legal framework on forest fires, identifying emerging trends and singling out best practices and innovative legal solutions. The study ultimately distils key recommendations to ensure that national legal measures on forest fires are supportive of a holistic approach to fire management.

© FAO 2009