Principles and experiences on managing landscapes, forests and woodlands for safety and resilience in Europe

Wildfires have always been a part of Europe’s history, especially around the Mediterranean. Today, however, that threat is spreading to Central and Northern Europe, with countries such as Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands now facing these new and unexpected pressures.

Climate change is aggravating the situation, making countries more prone to wildfires and increasing the intensity of such events. With every passing year, the wildfire season starts earlier and ends later, with these fires becoming more frequent events that can strike in any region.

In the recent past, horrifying images of wildfires have showed that it is a global phenomenon. From the West Coast of the United States to Australia, and from the Amazon to the Arctic Circle, these dramatic images have reached us, as many of our citizens – and many of our ecosystems – have suffered similarly catastrophic events.

In this new context, enhanced information to support evidence-based policies, prevention and cooperation are our most important tools to tackle wildfires and enhance wildfire risk management in Europe and globally. The experience of Mediterranean countries has shown that the risk of wildfires can be successfully addressed through better planning and landuse management, in combination with education and awareness campaigns, and enhanced preparedness for firefighting.

Cooperation is equally essential, with decision makers at all levels benefiting from continuous exchanges of information and experiences. Back in 1998, the Commission established an Expert Group on Forest Fires, which serves as a platform to share experience and lessons learned, supporting the development of EU initiatives and science-based policies such as the European Forest Fire Information System. Better communications help planners get the best out of all the instruments at their disposal, such as funding for wildfire prevention and tools for a common response.

This booklet prepared by the European Commission with the support of fire management experts in the countries, provides a summary of the current and future trends of wildfires in Europe and tools to monitor them at European and country level.

The report includes an overview of existing land-based wildfire prevention and good practices,and showcases good practices that can save lives. These guidelines are well aligned with
the goals of the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy. We are convinced that together we can get better prepared to address the increasing threat of wildfires in Europe and can create a more effective response to an ever more frequent common problem, with important benefits for our citizens and the natural environment we depend on.

Tuesday, 23. March 2021