Type of project


Project status


Implementation period

01.03.2006 - 28.02.2010

Contract number

Source of funding

Financing amount


Coordinator / leading department

Project supervisor

Project description

FIRE PARADOX is an integrated project (IP) funded under the Sixth Framework Programme for European Research & Technological Development of European Union, Priority 6.3 Global Changes and Ecosystems.

Project goals

The fire paradox is visible on every continent. Humans need fire to regulate the dynamics of natural ecosystems for the benefit of stability and productivity, but uncontrolled use of fire often leads to ecological and humanitarian catastrophes threatening biodiversity or resulting in economic losses and public well-being.

In Europe, a few years later than North America, it became apparent that a systematically implemented policy of fire exclusion in fact often produces the opposite of the desired effect. It aggravates the overall fire risks, due to an increase in the “protected”, accumulating biomass. Based on the experience of a few practitioners and the results of past fire ecology research, the aim of this project is to develop new policies for fire management and forest fire risk reduction, adapted to European constraints. The ambition of participants in the Fire Paradox project to contribute through their research to develop concrete, operable contributions to reduce the social, economic and ecological impacts of large-scale or high-severity forest fires such as occurred in Portugal, Spain and France in 2003 and 2005.

The aim of this project is to provide the scientific and technical building blocks to “learn to live with fire”.

Characteristics of the project

Wildfires are a major problem for many European societies threatening human lives and property with disastrous impacts particularly at the wildland-urban interface. On the other hand humans always use fire as a tool to regulate nature and traditional use of fire is known in many regions of Europe. The understanding of this paradox, is thus essential for finding solutions for integrated wildland fire management. This concept requires considering the various aspects of fire, from its use as a planned management practice (prescribed fire) to the initiation and propagation of unplanned fires (wildfires) and to the use of fire in fighting wildfires (suppression fire).

Fire Paradox examines four components of fire:

  • Prescribed Burning: This fuel reduction technique has already been studied and developed in some European countries. The significant development of this technique in Europe requires not only accompanying research work, including sociological research, but also the development of demonstration tools and specific means adapted to each country.
  • Wildfire Initiation: This is the phase from the outbreak (ignition) of a wildfire to the first intervention by fire-fighting forces. Control of this first link in the chain is particularly important in member states that have put in place a policy that gives priority on fire prevention (by addressing the underlying causes of human-ignited fires), and the initial fire fighting operations (initial attack).
  • Wildfire Spread: Special emphasis is given to a domain in which limited research has been carried out and which are particularly important: flash over, development of a European fire propagation simulator, forest / housing (wildland / residential) interfaces, etc.
  • Backfire: This wildfire suppression technique is not sufficiently used in Europe. To master this technique, it is necessary to work in a co-coordinated manner using experience acquired by present-day operators, backed up by the necessary research.

Prescribed or suppression fires will therefore set the limits for wildfires by controlling their spatial extent, intensity and impacts. This is the main approach adopted aiming at the creation of the scientific and technological bases for new practices and policies under integrated wildland fire management and in the development of strategies for its implementation in Europe. Three major domains of related activities were considered: research, development and dissemination. In research, the project will focus on understanding the mechanisms and modelling the processes associated with fire, from physics to biology and social sciences. Experimental and sampling methods will be used. The scientific and technical knowledge gathered will allow the development of a technological platform that will integrate the fire model, the temporal and spatial variability of fuels and weather, and the potential ecological and socio-economical impacts. Documentation and demonstration platforms will also be extensively used for dissemination, focusing in the development of strategies for public awareness, academic and professional training using new communication technologies and networks, and for the implementation of new practices, policies and regulations under the concept of integrated wildland fire management.

Within these three domains the actions will strive to focus on innovation, but they will also aim to revive good ideas that already exist, and to call into question ineffective policies and practices.

In addition, specific work will be undertaken in non-sectoral domains that may have an impact on forest fire occurrence: land-use planning (urban development, environment), economic aspects (tourism, Common Agricultural Policy), forestry management, energy policy, climate change, etc.

Scope of IBL participation

Samodzielna Pracownia Ochrony Przeciwpożarowej (SPOPL) IBL w ramach projektu FIRE PARADOX będzie prowadziła badania dotyczące wykorzystania ognia jako sposobu zwalczania naturalnych pożarów lasu i terenów niezagospodarowanych w warunkach krajowych. W tym celu konieczne będzie poznanie zjawiska pożarów kontrolowanych (doświadczalnych) dla typowych formacji materiałów leśnych oraz opis matematyczny tych pożarów. Stworzy to podstawy do opracowania zasad stosowania celowego wypalania w gaszeniu pożarów leśnych dla jednostek ratowniczych.

Zespół Samodzielnej Pracowni prowadzi prace w ramach 5 modułów w 7 zadaniach.

Moduł 3. Mechanizmy biologiczne
Zadanie (WP) 3.1. Prognozowanie powstawania pożarów i palności materiałów leśnych oraz zmian ich wilgotności w czasie

  1. Badanie zmian kształtowania się wilgotności ściółki sosnowej (Pinus sylvestris L.) w zależności od czynników meteorologicznych i wieku drzewostanu.
  2. Prognozowanie wilgotności ściółki sosnowej (Pinus sylvestris L.). Badania występowania pożarów w zależności od wilgotności ściółki sosnowej (Pinus sylvestris L.).
  3. Określenie progowej wilgotności ściółki sosnowej (Pinus sylvestris L.) umożliwiającej inicjację pożaru.

Moduł 4. Nauki społeczne i humanistyczne
Zadanie (WP) 4.2. Ustalenie rodzajów przyczyn pożarów i ich wielkości w powiązaniu z czynnikiem ludzkim.

  1. Przestrzenne i czasowe występowanie pożarów oraz ich przyczyny.
  2. Podatność pożarowa typów siedliskowych lasu.

Zadanie (WP) 4.3. Określenie istniejących uwarunkowań powstawania pożarów i zbadanie możliwych zmian w przyszłości.

  1. Analiza palności leśnych formacji roślinnych w Polsce uwzględniająca możliwość powstawania i rozprzestrzeniania się pożaru.

Zadanie (WP) 4.4. Ekonomiczna ocena skutków pożarów lasu i percepcji społecznej.

Forest Fire Protection Laboratory participates in the project by carried on works in following Modules and Workpackages:

Module 3. Biological mechanisms
Work package 3.1 Prediction of ignition and fuel flammability and temporal variation of fuel moisture

Module 4. Social Sciences and Humanities
Work package 4.1 Detection of patterns of ignitions and fire sizes in relationship with the human factor
Work package 4.2 Determining existing fire regimes and exploring scenarios of future change
Work package 4.4 Economic valuation of forest fire impacts and public perception

Module 7. Policies and practices assessment
Work package 7.2 Analysis of existing detection systems effectiveness

Module 8. Real time fire monitoring and analysis of past fires
Work package 8.1 European field bases for fire monitoring and analysis

Module 13: Integration for solving the fire paradox
Work package 13.2 Wildfire initiation integration

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 Barbara Ubysz, Eng.

dr inż. Józef Piwnicki

dr inż. Ryszard Szczygieł

mgr inż. Mirosław Kwiatkowski


Role* No Participant name Short name Country
CO 1 Instituto Superior de Agronomia ISA/CEABN Portugal, Lisbon,
CR 2 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique INRA France, Paris
CR 3 European Forest Institute EFI Finland, Joensuu
CR 4 Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania MAICh Greece, Chania
CR 5 Fire Ecology Research Group / Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, c/o Freiburg University GFMC Germany, Freiburg
CR 6 Universidad Carlos III de Madrid UC3M Spain, Madrid
CR 7 Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnologia Agraria y Alimentaria INIA-CIFOR Spain, Madrid
CR 8 Generalitat de Catalunya – Departament d´Interior – Departament General d´Émergencies i Seguretat Civil – Grup de Recolzament d´Actuacions Forestals DGESC-GRAF Spain, Cerdanyola del Vallès
CR 9 Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Grupo de Investigación UCM Spain, Madrid
CR 10 Centro de investigaciones Forestales y Ambientales de Lourizán. Centro de Desenvolvemento Sostenible. Consellería de Media Ambiente. Xunta de Galicia. XG-CIFAL Spain, Pontevedra
CR 11 Universidad de LLeida UL-UFF Spain, Lleida
CR 12 Centre Tecnologic Forestal de Catalunya CTFC Spain, Solsona
CR 13 Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL Switzerland, Bellinzona
CR 14 Université de la Mediterranée UNIVEMED France, Marseille
CR 15 Centre National du Machinisme Agricole, du Génie Rural des Eaux et des Forêts CEMAGREF France, Antony
CR 16 Espaces Méditerranéens EM France, Fox-Amphoux
CR 17 Agence MTDA MTDA France, Aix-en-Provence
CR 18 Instituto Superior Técnico IST Portugal, Lisbon
CR 19 Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro UTAD Portugal, Vila Real
CR 20 Dipartimento di Arboricoltura, Botanica e Patologia Vegetale – Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II ARBOPAVE-UNINA Italy, Portici
CR 21 Corpo Forestale e di Vigilanza Ambientale delle Regione Autonoma della Sardegna CFVA/RAS Italy, Cagliari
CR 22 University of Thessaloniki AUTH Greece, Thessaloniki
CR 23 University of Bristol UBRIS United Kingom, Bristol
CR 24 Slovenian Forestry Institute SFI Slovenia, Ljubljana
CR 25 Instytut Badawczy Leśnictwa IBL Poland, Sękocin Stary
CR 26 The University of Edinburgh UEDIN United Kingom, Edinburgh
CR 27 Technical Research Center of Finland VTT Finland, Espoo
CR 28 National Institute of Research in Rural Engineering, Water and Forest INRGREF Tunísia, Ariana
CR 29 Ecole Nationale Forestiere D´Ingenieurs ENFI Maroc, Sale
CR 30 OMIKRON Ltd – Environmental Engineering and Technical works design, study, management – Ltd OMIKRON Ltd Greece, Thessaloniki
CR 31 University of Zurich Univers UZH Switzerland, Zürich


* K – koordynator, P – partner

Translate »