European Youth Portal
Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.

FOREST FIRES: BURNING THE FUTURE

What do we know about forest fires? What are the main causes? What happens after a fire in the burned area? Does it affect climate change in increasing forest fires?.

In the past, fires played an important role to regenerate the forests, but nowadays, they have become a threat to biodiversity and to the inhabitants of the areas at risk of fire, due to their increase and frequency.

Globally, there are more vulnerable areas such as the Mediterranean countries, California, South Africa and Australia. In Europe, the most affected country is Spain, followed by Portugal, Greece, southern France and Italy.

 

THE CAUSES

There are several factors that have caused the increase of such fires:

- the increase of biomass by changing from a rural society to an urban one.

- lack of management of many of the forest areas.

- the increase of residential areas, roads, overhead wires…

The action of the human being, intentionally or negligently form, represent over 80% of fires.

 

 

THE CONSEQUENCES

After a fire, the alteration of the landscape influences the subsequent use of the mountain to natural, ecological, productive and leisure level.

Another one is the water and atmosphere pollution.

It is also pointed out the death of wildlife.

Although one of the most damaging consequences is the huge ground erosion by the action of the rains, what produces the risk of desertification.

The economic losses are very high, both for damage caused as the expenses of extinction and subsequent intervention to regenerate the area, which costs millions of euros.

 

 

MANAGEMENT OF FIRES

It includes prevention, extinction and regeneration

1. Prevention:

To prevent fires we must act on the causes. It is necessary awareness campaigns in order to avoid fires by negligence and to promote alternatives to the use of fire in rural environments (stubble burning, etc).

In the case of arson, it is necessary to develop laws that prevent individuals or groups get benefits after a fire and build in areas at risk.

Governments should also promote the action of justice to prosecute this crime against the environment.

Proper forest management involves the study of the ground, reducing biomass, by respecting the diversity of species, creating firebreaks, forest tracks, etc.

2. Extinction

The extinction of large forest fires requires human and material resources and a suitable coordination between them.

The Valencian Community has developed the Special Plan against the risk of forest fires.

If necessary, in addition to regional and municipal resources, you can apply for state media, as the Military Emergency Unit, as well as international aid.

3. Regeneration

Current knowledges indicate that we must respect the natural regeneration capacity of the land. The intervention begins by removing the burned wood, and after a period, by replanting native species.

The first signs of plant reconstitution can be seen from 6-8 years and complete regeneration takes about 50 years.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

Climate change is not the cause of the fires, but contribute to factors such as rising temperatures. Fires generate emissions that harm the ozone layer.

The Government of the Generalitat Valenciana has legislated for the burnt ground can not be used to build, in order to avoid land speculation as a cause of fire.

It is a step. Surely we can all take more steps. Every citizen, every town, every country must do its part.

The future of this planet is everyone; it is not a local problem. Environment is a global issue.

 

 

Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Valencia