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Project description

Project granted in the framework of the Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability call.

Project goals

Forest fire risk concerns large territories and causes great damages with ecological, social and economical consequences in particular with high costs of prevention and fire fighting. Some years have heavy consequences with human dead life, burned houses and hectares of burned vegetation. Both the natural conditions – high flammable fuel vegetation, climate with hot waves, drought and wind-and the spatial arrangement of the territory – large continuity of vegetation and fuel load accumulation joined to an increased urbanization within and near forest, the forest use for tourism-increase the risk of forest fire in the Mediterranean region. This situation is the consequences of deep land transformations observed for some decades and of high dynamics of land cover. From different statistical sources we know that most of the wildfires in Mediterranean Europe (above 90%) occur as a consequence of human activities that can directly act as fire ignition sources or indirectly create the conditions that favours fire ignition and/or fire propagation. These causes are numerous but there are not well known in general. A better knowledge of these causes will allow us to improve and to develop specific actions for wildfire prevention and land management in order to greatly decrease the number of fire ignitions and in a mid term to mitigate the risk of fire.

Currently due the implications of forest fires beyond national boundaries, the heterogeneity of national classification schemes and the relatively limited scope of the EU classification scheme (limited to four categories) a pan-European approach on the analysis of forest fire causes is needed. In this context the Institute for Environment and Sustainability is funding this project for the determination of forest fire causes and harmonization of methods for reporting them, with the aim of providing an analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution causes and the identification of the main driving factors affecting fire occurrence in the different European regions.

Characteristics of the project

The project includes the review of studies on fire causes in the scientific literature in the field of forest fire causes, the analysis of fire causes classification schemes currently adopted in Europe and elsewhere, the proposal for a harmonized classification scheme for EU, the conversion of the data stored in EU fire database into the new scheme, the analysis of geospatial and temporal distribution of the forest fire causes in Europe and the identification of the main driving factors of fire and the delivery of resulting datasets an related metadata ready to be implemented in EFFIS.

The result of the project will be a common classification scheme of fire causes ready to be submitted and discussed for its adoption by the Member States. In this sense the new classification scheme will be applicable, through minor changes, to the current country settings preserving as much as possible the historical data series of each country and exploiting at the same time as much as possible the level of detail of the currently available and historical information.

Two groups of tasks structure the project proposal, divided in “Sub-Tasks”:

  • management activities: Task 0,
  • scientific and technical activities: Task 1 to Task 6:

Task 1 – State of the art.
Task 2 – Analysis of fire causes classification schemes.
Task 3 – Proposal for a harmonized classification scheme for EU.
Task 4 – Data conversion of EU fire database historical series into the new scheme.
Task 5 – Analysis of fire causes spatial and temporal distribution in Europe.
Task 6 – Preparation of resulting data layers and related metadata ready to be implemented in EFFIS.

Scope of IBL participation

The Forest Research Institute is participating in 3 tasks of the project:

Task 1 – State of the art
Task 1 aim is to collect and analyze literature on fire ignitions (causes and main factors) and
so :

  • to collect scientific literature world wide,
  • to draw a specific review of the studies reporting on fire causes in the European countries during the last 20 years,
  • to write a state of the art in the field of fire causes and related modelling works.

The output will consist in a bibliographic database stored at the End Note format.

Task 2 – Analysis of fire causes classification schemes
Task 2 aim is to compare the existing fire causes classification schemes in order:

  • to clarify semantic definitions and categorizations of fire causes,
  • to identify differences and commonalities,
  • to explain the procedures adopted to categorize, assign and record causes,
  • to highlight weaknesses, drawbacks and constraints in the different approaches.

The output will contain the analysis of the different schemes.

Task 3 – Proposal for a harmonized classification schemes for EU
The analyses of the different existing schemes in Task 2 will provide a first analysis of the
weaknesses and drawbacks of the schemes in each country.

These task aims are:

  • to allow a more thorough understanding of the causes of forest fires in Europe than the current common four categories of fire causes,
  • to propose a harmonized classification scheme for EU taking into account the history of each country,
  • to make easier the transition to this new scheme for the EU countries.

The output will consist in a proposal of a harmonized classification scheme and of detailed guidelines and feasibility.

Project contractors

Forest Fire Protection Laboratory
3 Braci Leśnej Street, Sękocin Stary,
05-090 Raszyn, Poland
tel. + 48 22 7150 402
fax. + 48 22 7150 422

dr inż. Barbara Ubysz

dr inż. Józef Piwnicki

dr inż. Ryszard Szczygieł


Role* No Participant name Short name Country
CO 1 Centre National du Machinisime Agricole, du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forets Cemagref France, Antony
CR 2 National Forest Institute ONF France, Lorrain
CR 3 Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS Germany, Sankt Augustin
CR 4 Institute of Biometeorology IBIMET Italy, Firenze
CR 5 Instytut Badawczy Leśnictwa IBL Poland, Sękocin Stary
CR 6 Núcleo de Investigação Científica de Incêndios Florestais NICIF Portugal, Coimbra
CR 7 Slovenian Forestry Institute SFI Slovenia, Ljubljana
CR 8 GMV Aerospace and Defence SA GMV Spain, Madrid
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