As the science and knowledge service of the European Commission, the Joint Research Centre's mission is to support EU policies with independent evidence throughout the whole policy cycle.
The JRC has published its annual forest fires report , based on contributions from the forest fire and civil protection services of the European countries participating in the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). The report 'Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2012’ is the 13th in the EFFIS Fire Report series.
The report shows that 646,157 hectares were burned in 2012 in the EU28, which is well above the average of last 20 years (about 470,000 ha) and is more or less the equivalent of the total area burned during 2010 and 2011 combined. Of the past 12 years, 2012 ranks third in terms of area affected, following the dramatic 2003 (862,452 ha) and 2007 (700,117 ha) fire seasons. It comes just ahead of 2005 (640,816 ha), while burned area figures for the other years were all below 400,000 ha.
Spain was by far the most affected EU country in 2012 (with a burned area of 209 855 ha, its worst year since 1994), followed by Italy (130,814 ha) and Portugal (110,231 ha). According to EFFIS estimates, about 37% of the burned EU area was located in the protected areas of the Natura2000 network.
The Balkan non-EU countries were also severely affected, especially Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro, with a total burned area mapped by EFFIS of 225,583 ha, as well as North Africa, especially Algeria, with a total burned area mapped by EFFIS of 228,380 ha.
Over the 2012 forest fire season, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism received nine requests for assistance regarding forest-fire-related emergencies, all supported by the information provided by EFFIS.
The fire season started quite early in 2012, with a significant burned area already recorded in March in southern Europe. Extremely hot and dry weather combined with strong winds led to extreme fire danger conditions in southern Europe throughout the fire season, hence the significant number of large fires observed and the large final area burned.
The forest fire situation in Europe and the Mediterranean basin is constantly monitored by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) , a system developed and run by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the Directorate General for Environment (DG ENV) and the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO).
EFFIS delivers updated and reliable information on wild land fires in Europe, the Middle East and North African countries, supporting forest fire prevention and fire-fighting services in European countries, the European Commission's Emergency Response Centre (ECHO ERC, based in Brussels), and other organisations in the field.
EFFIS provides fire danger forecast up to six days in advance, and monitors and maps fires to provide near-real time estimates of fire damages across Europe and the Mediterranean.