© Sippakorn Yamkasikorn / Unsplash
fires
We protect our forests from forest fires

Forests are a refuge for thousands of species of plants and animals. They have their own rules and ways of operating, often invisible to the human eye. They are our natural shield against floods, land erosion,diseases, and the climate crisis, while they are the lungs of the Earth and humanity. Above all, forests are our own health, our own life.

Unfortunately, however, as climate change intensifies, they are becoming more and more vulnerable all over the planet. Although Mediterranean forests are adapted to fires, the increased frequency and intensity of forest fires has made the situation more threatening than ever before. Especially if one takes into account how intensely and quickly the conditions in the Mediterranean are changing due to the climate crisis. 

A forest fire has serious, direct impacts on land animals, birds, and plants, and may cause serious damage to agricultural income, human property and infrastructure, it also bears a heavy financial cost for its suppression, and final but not last forest fires can lead to the loss of human lives. Over time, forest wildfires can lead to the irrevocable loss of vegetation, land erosion, and, in the end, increased flooding and desertification. 

 
© Andrea Bonetti / WWF Ελλάς

Over the past 20 years, there have been approximately 

10.000 incidents of rural fires  in the Greek countryside every year

burning an average of over

534.121 square kilometres.

Most of these fires are due to human negligence.

Forests are, above all else, our own health, our own life.

WHAT WE DO

As indicated by the fires in 2017 in Portugal and 2018 in Greece, suppression alone is not enough. Prevention in practice is a one-way street that will lead us to the effective management of fires and, in the end, the protection of our forests. 

That is why we focus on fire prevention, raising awareness and empowering citizens, integrated proposals to the State, and trying to stop actions that lead to fires. We work on a local level with competent state authorities and volunteers, we partner with teachers, we mobilise resources and people in joint campaigns aimed at effective prevention. With our slogan, ‘Fire concerns you - Be careful/Be aware ', we are trying to explore the causes locally, identify their drivers, l and mobilise groups in society that will put prevention into practice. We travel to historically fire prone areas, aiming to train and inform volunteers, firemen, local authorities, teachers, and the public at large regarding prevention. Our goal is not just to inform, but to enter into dialogue with the local community. 

Every year we carry out on-site inspections of areas struck by fires. Over the past 12 years, we have carried out more than 15 on-site inspections and relevant reports. The results of our work in the field are accompanied by proposals on timely prevention and damage restoration. 

Furthermore, given that 80% of burnt areas in Europe are in countries of the Mediterranean, which face common forest fire threats, we are working closely with WWF offices throughout the Mediterranean, proposing solutions to improve overall fire management and emphasise prevention. 

There can be no integrated prevention without bold political decisions. Thus, we are dynamically intervening with proposals for the improvement of our forest fire protection system, by developing alliances, applying pressure, and participating in discussions and working groups. Beyond interventions on forest fires, however, we are steadily fighting for broader forest protection issues. We submit substantiated proposals on a series of forest policy issues, such as the legal protection of forests, sustainable forest management and organisation of the competent authorities, and we intervene administratively or legally in cases that concern the degradation of important forest ecosystems.

© WWF Ελλάς

Learn about the myths that fan the flames

This is not the case, as more than 40% of forest fires in Greece are due to human negligence, not arson.
Don’t be so sure, even if you feel that you are “expert” or “experienced”, a lit cigarette, a barbecue, a small spark from machinery is enough to turn an entire forest to ashes.
The State has a major role in limiting fires; however, prevention, which can save forests, is in our hands too.
Wrong! For technical, scientific, or economic reasons, not all areas can be reforested. In fact, reforesting is a restoration practice, not prevention.
Repeated fires, grazing on burnt land, and erosion impede Mediterranean nature from being restored naturally, and there is always the risk of desertification.

Project leader: Elias Tziritis

WHAT YOU CAN DO

The battle to protect our forests is everybody’s business, and we fight it every day. Fire concerns us all, and that is why we need you at our side, so that we can continue to fight for the forests that provide us with clean air and are the very foundation of our health.