Forest fires Macedonia
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.
In Macedonia in the period 1999-2005 a total of 1,191 forest fires were recorded, with a burned area of 59,500 ha. and over €28 million total economic loss. The largest damage occurred in 2000, when the burned area was 46,000 ha, and damage cost was estimated to be about €10 million. In the summer of 2007 Macedonia experienced extended wildfires, which severely affected forests and other vegetation over an area exceeding 40,000 hectares. One of the contributing factors was climate conditions, i.e. a dramatic heat wave and the highest temperatures ever recorded along with the prolonged dry period pushed the usual summer forest-fire season drastically beyond its usual pattern. It is evident that forest fires not only destroy the biodiversity, change the micro-climate, and create potentials for erosion, but also cause enormous economic losses which will take decades to be recovered (5). The economic losses caused by forest fires in Macedonia in the first 10 years of the 21st century are estimated to be about € 50 million (7).
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 (6).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Macedonia.
- 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)
- Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of Italy (2007)
- Giannakopoulos et al. (2005)
- Republic of Macedonia, Ministry of Environment and Physical planning (2008)
- Swedish Commission on Climate and Vulnerability (2007)
- Mátyás (2010)