Finland Finland Finland Finland

Forest fires Finland


In more inhabited northern Europe, thanks to fire control, forest fires are rare, the percentage of forest land burnt annually being less than 0.05%. The projected more frequent drought spells, especially in southern Finland, indicate that the risk of wild fires may increase substantially (1).

Finland is Europe’s most heavily forested country, with 75% of its land area covered by forests (3). During the past 3 decades, the average number of forest fires has been about 1000 fires annually, with an average burnt area of 0.5 ha per fire (4). During the 20th century, there has been no significant increasing or decreasing tendency in the climate-driven forest fire danger (5); summertime temperatures have increased (6) but no significant changes in summertime precipitation have been observed yet (7).

From climate projections (SRES A1B emission scenario) changes in temperature and precipitation have been estimated for 2010−2029 and 2080−2099 compared with 1961-1990 (8). From these estimates, changes in the number of days with a high forest fire danger in Finland were estimated for the forest fire ‘high season’, i.e. June to August. The climate change projections showed an average summertime mean temperature rise in Finland by 1.5°C for 2010−2029 and by 4°C for 2080−2099, and a general precipitation increase for most of the country. These changes would result in an increase of the probability of forest fire danger days (FDDs) by 56-75% for 2010−2029 and 71-91% for 2080−2099. The estimated probability increase was largest in northern Finland and smallest in eastern Finland. On average, the number of forest fire danger days was projected to increase by 1 day for 2010−2029 and by 7 to 10 days for 2080−2099, compared with 1961-1990. The uncertainty in this number is mainly due to uncertainty in the sign and magnitude of future precipitation change. The actual number of fires ignited, however, also strongly depends on socio-economical changes (8).

Besides a projected increase of the number of forest fire danger days during June to August, the forest fire season probably will start earlier as well due to a projected earlier end of the snow season in the boreal environment (9). Forest fire activity starts soon after snowmelt, when organic debris from the previous growing season is exposed and dried. A shift of fire activity towards the spring has already been observed (10).

Adaptation strategies

Adaptation options to forest fire risk should aim to decrease the vulnerability, where a change in tree species from conifers to broadleaves had most effect (2).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Finland.

  1. Fischlin (ed.) (2009)
  2. Schelhaas et al. (2010)
  3. Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2007), in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  4. Finnish Forest Research Institute (2012), in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  5. Mäkelä et al. (2012), in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  6. Tuomenvirta (2004); Tietäväinen et al. (2010), both in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  7. Ylhäisi et al. (2010), in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  8. Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  9. Ruosteenoja et al. (2011); Räisänen and Eklund (2012), both in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)
  10. Tanskanen and Venäläinen (2008), in: Mäkelä et al. (2014)