Near East Network on Wildlands Forest Fire - NENFIRE

The NENA region

The NENA region consists of 20 countries distributed between North Africa and Near East (see blue box on the right). The region is charactherised by a forest cover significantly small, estimated at 42 million hectares (3.0 percent of region’s land area) while Other Wooded Land (OWL) is estimated at 35.4 million hectares (FRA 2015). In total both forests and OWL represents 5.4 percent of the land area of the region.

The forests in the NENA region are used for timber, wood fuel and many other forest related uses: grazing, agriculture, and as a source of non-wood products which are an integral part of the livelihood of the rural population. In addition to the socio-economic functions, these forests provide ecosystem services such as watershed management, soil protection and combatting desertification.

The NENA region is particularly vulnerable to climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, the climate is predicted to become hotter and drier (above the global average), in most of the NENA region (IPCC, 1997). Higher temperatures and reduced precipitation will increase the occurrence of droughts. In addition, forests in the NENA region are seriously impacted by the absence of adequate management and the unsustainable use of their natural resources such as overgrazing, illegal logging and the irrational collection of fuelwood and forage wood, with severe negative effect on the natural forests and rangelands. Therefore, due to the combination of the aforementioned factors and climate change, leading to an increased vulnerability for the region’s already fragile natural environment, forest fire in the region are on the rise.