Addressing the Risks of Forest Fires in South Eastern Europe

Addressing the Risks of Forest Fires in South Eastern Europe

Source of funding

Austria

Name of client/donor

Austrian Development Agency GmbH

Overall project value

EUR 66,000

Date

March 2013 – December 2015

Beneficiary countries

Albania | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Kosovo* | Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia | Montenegro | Serbia

Number of staff

8

The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) was established in 2003 by OSCE, UNDP, and UNEP. In 2004, NATO became an associated member and in 2006 the Initiative was strengthened with the addition of two new members: UNECE and REC. The goals of ENVSEC are to promote the sound and equitable management of land and water resources, minimising risk and conflict over their use and promoting stability; reduce cross-border risks from hazardous substances, pollution and waste; enhance countries' capacities for the management of security risks resulting from climate change; and empower civil society to manage and mitigate environmental security risks. The project "Addressing the Risks of Forest Fires in South Eastern Europe" was implemented by the REC in the framework of ENVSEC.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

The main objective was to assess the systems for forest fire prevention and control and the risks of forest fires in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia from both a national and a transboundary perspective. By comparing the existing systems and the risks faced by the countries, the project aimed to identify the main governance gaps and provide policy recommendations.

Fire is a natural and beneficial part of many forest ecosystems, but the number and intensity of fires today is challenging fire managers and forest communities throughout the world. Each year wildfires destroy between 6 and 14 million hectares of fire-sensitive forests worldwide, a rate of loss and degradation comparable to that of destructive logging and agricultural conversion. The immediate impacts of fires are devastating to human communities and forest ecosystems. In the longer term they adversely affect the supply of environmental services necessary for human well-being, threaten the survival of endangered species, damage the structural and compositional complexity of biologically important forests, and create suitable conditions for invasive species. Forest fires are the most important threat to forests and wooded areas in Southern Europe. In Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, over 220,000 hectares of forest were burned in the years 2007 and 2012 alone. The impacts of fires in this region vary, from economic losses related to fire suppression and burned timber mass to degradation, deforestation, soil erosion, pest infestations (especially bark beetles) and greenhouse gas emissions.

The project contributed to efforts in SEE to stem the increasing threat of fires and to safeguard the essential services provided by forests to ecosystems and society. In the context of the project independent research and analysis was carried out in each of the beneficiary countries. The results are six country studies and a regional report focusing on the transboundary trends in forest fire prevention and control and the risks of forest fires in SEE. The countries involved gathered at a closing workshop to discuss the outputs and agreed on a common roadmap to address the risks of forest fires in the region.

  • Research and analysis
  • Publications
  • Policy recommendations
  • Fostering transboundary cooperation in disaster prevention and management

Project Publications