EUFIRELAB > Public area > Forum > Answers
Return to the questions list | Return to the topics list |
Number of answers : 4

Question :
VALETTE Jean-Charles
Catastrophic fires of 2003
According to what happend in your region, do you believe that 2003 is an exceptionnal year of the first one of a coming series of catastrophic years?
Post :06/10/04 18:28:21
MOLINA Domingo
Not in Catalonia (NE Spain) this year.
Post : 13/10/04 08:09:35 E-mail
VALETTE Jean-Charles
In fact in Southern France too, the 2004 burnt area will be closer to the yearly average of the ten last years.
Post : 14/10/04 09:10:41 E-mail
In my view 2003 is probably the first of a series of bad fire years to come. However, I would not consider climatic change as the culprit. At least, I am not convinced that we have enough evidence to support such a statement.

Vegetation change due mainly to land abandonement & reduced biomass utilization, and secondarily as the result of forest expansion due to reforestation and successful past forest protection, is the main factor contributing to the problem. In some ways, this is similar to the change brought by the "10 AM policy" for fire suppression in the USA, during most of the 20th century, that resulted in recognition of the need for reintroduction of prescribed burning in forest & fire management in the 1970s.

Another important factor, especially in Mediterranean Europe, is the development of extended Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) areas. These areas increase not only the probability for problems with fires but also the visibility (and destruction potential) of such fires. Also, they tie-up disproportionally large resources at times of widespread fire problems (extreme fire danger days) which would otherwise be more effective in preventing other fires from becoming large.

In conclusion, until WUI areas development standards (and their enforcement) improve substantially, and fire management is redirected and adapted to address the vegetation change problems described above, bad fire years will be repeated again. There is a current tendency to increase the capacity of the firefighting mechamisms around the world, but this is not a long term solution either. Depending on the size of the problem, the environmental conditions and the increase of firefighting capacity, the frequency of the disastrous years may be affected in the short to medium term. However, a new plateau will be reached where problems will be repeated....

My views are described in more detail in
Xanthopoulos, G. 2004. Who should be responsible for forest fires? Lessons from the Greek experience. In proceedings of the “II International Symposium on Fire Economics, Planning and Policy: A Global Vision”, April 19-22, 2004, Cordoba, Spain.
Post : 30/11/04 11:50:31 E-mail
There is an increasing confusion between the observed climate change (including hoter summers) and the meteorological conditions which favourize fires, especially strong winds. No proof that winds will increase in the future...
Post : 21/11/06 02:29:58 E-mail
The project
General information
Home Presentation
EUFIRELAB products
Jobs & CV E-library E-observatories News Forums Deliverables Specific studies
Create user account
Do you forget your password ?
Partners list