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Forest Fires in Alps 2020: State of knowledge, future challenges and options for an integrated fire management: White Paper for policy makers

Description

There is clear evidence of a climate-driven fire regime change in the Northern Hemisphere with fire risk increasing in non-traditional fire-prone countries. One of these regions is the European Alps. Wildfires are an emerging issue that can lead to high damages in protection forests, increasing natural hazards and resulting in threats to people and high costs up to millions of euros for fire suppression and restoration measures. The recent extremely dry and hot summers in different parts of the Alpine space, e.g. 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018, have evidenced the need to be better prepared in order to face a changing fire regime with more intense and frequent fires.

The negative impacts of forest fires in the Alps can be summarized as:

  • Reduction of the protection function of mountain forests
  • Increased vulnerability to natural hazards
  • Loss of natural resources and decreased productivity through increased soil erosion
  • High costs for firefighting and post-fire management
  • Increased danger for humans and infrastructure at the wildland-urban-interface (WUI)
  • Increased air pollution and carbon release

This white paper proposes a number of recommendations and proposed actions to cope with the changing fire regime in the Alpine region aimed to:

  • Design and implement short- and long-term prevention measures
  • Adapt suppression measures to the specific conditions of the Alpine region
  • Improve the understanding and measures on post-fire management
  • Support knowledge transfer and exchange of experiences

The total costs for the proposed integrated forest fire management measures are estimated to be around 10 million € per year.

Reference information

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Published in Climate ADAPT Jul 27 2020   -   Last Modified in Climate ADAPT Jul 27 2020

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