Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Maximum efforts by the air unit.

Maximum efforts by the air unit.© Richard Portmann Lorenzo

Forest fire damage in 2009 already higher than in 2008


Estimates from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) show that 200,000 hectares of land in the EU have already burnt in 2009, compared to a total of 180,000 in 2008. EFFIS continuously monitors the forest fire risk, which at present is still high, and has just released the 'Forest Fires in Europe 2008' report providing a comprehensive overview of the forest fire danger conditions and impact of forest fires in Europe for 2008.

EFFIS, run by the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), uses satellite images to produce daily updated maps of areas burnt by forest fires of at least 40 hectares in size. The area of mapped fires corresponds on average to 75% of the total burnt area which includes fires smaller than 40 hectares. The burnt area mapped so far in 2009 in the EU is 150,076 hectares, which corresponds to an estimated total burnt area of about 200,000 hectares.

This year, Spain and Italy have been most affected because of the extreme fire weather conditions in the second half of July, but also France and, to a lesser extent, Greece and Portugal suffered significant damage. Several unusual fire episodes occurred in March in Portugal and North-West Spain where, helped by dry weather conditions and strong winds, an estimated area of about 25,000 hectares was burnt.

The “Forest Fires in Europe 2008” report released today is the 9th report of a series produced with the contribution of the forest fire and civil protection services in the Member States and European countries participating in EFFIS.