Forest fires Albania
The climate change effects have increased the number and the intensity of fires in Albania. During 2006–2007 there were 352 major fires that burned throughout Albanian parks and forests, burning entire ecosystems and pastures. In some areas you could drive for tens of kilometres without seeing a single tree unburned—the fires devastated entire forests sometimes. The fires can be attributed to a higher temperature in summer, prolonged droughts and earlier melting of snow on the mountain caps (6).
Forest fire danger, length of the fire season, and fire frequency and severity are very likely to increase in the Mediterranean (1), and will lead to increased dominance of shrubs over trees (2).
Dry weather and damaged ecosystem with accumulation of dead biomass increase the risk of forest fires and therefore increased climate variability will augment the risk of forest fires (3). In addition, forest fires are expected to encourage the spread of invasive species which in turn, have been shown to fuel more frequent and more intense forest fires (4).
An indication of the forest fire risk under the future climate scenarios has been calculated (4). Under both A2 and B2 scenarios, fire risk is shown to increase nearly everywhere in the Mediterranean region, especially in inland locations. The southern Mediterranean is at risk of forest fire all year round. In the Iberian Peninsula, northern Italy and over the Balkans, the period of extreme fire risk lengthens substantially. The only region that shows little change in fire risk is in the southeastern Mediterranean.
Projections of forest fire risk in 2030-2060 compared with 1961-1990 suggest that (4):
- The increase is higher during the summer, with maximum increase in August in the North Mediterranean inland;
- Balkans, Maghreb, North Adriatic, Central Spain, and Turkey are the most affected regions;
- The south of France is as strongly affected as Spain, but only in August and September;
- The islands of Crete, Sardinia, Sicily (southernmost Italy too), Peloponnese, and Cyprus see no increase or decrease. Cyprus may even see a small decrease every month;
- There will be 2 to 6 additional weeks of fire risk everywhere, except for the south of Italy and Cyprus. The maximum increase is again inland (Spain, Maghreb, Balkans, North Italy, and Central Turkey), where at least an additional month with risk of fire is expected. A significant proportion of this increase in fire risk is actually extreme fire risk;
- The south of France, Crete, and the coastal area of the rest of Mediterranean Region also show a significant increase in the number of days with fire risk (1-4 weeks), but not in the number of extreme fire risk.
Major funding has also been put into increasing the capacity to combat forest fires in Europe. For example, Italy has Europe’s largest fleet of aircraft and helicopters, and has on several occasions loaned out its planes to France and Spain. The high level of preparedness requires significant resources, but has shown good results: the year 2000 saw 6,600 fires destroy 58,000 hectares of forest, while almost the same number of fires in 2006 only destroyed 16,000 hectares. Protezione Civile considers itself to have a successful organisation with a high level of preparedness and great capacity to handle the effects of climate change (5).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Albania.
- Santos et al. (2002); Pausas (2004); Moreno (2005); Pereira et al. (2005); Moriondo et al. (2006), all in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Mouillot et al. (2002), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Republic of Albania, Ministry of Environment (2002)
- Giannakopoulos et al. (2005)
- Swedish Commission on Climate and Vulnerability (2007)
- Mátyás (2010)