Forest fires occur regularly all over the world and it is very likely that the damage they cause will increase further because of climate change and lack of fuel management (cleaning the forest of vegetation and fallen branches below the trees, this is called 'fuel') over abandoned rural areas. The JRC monitors European forests to continually assess the risk of fires, provide early alerts and provide information on active fires. It also evaluates the effects that changes in land use, land cover, climate change, or other socioeconomic factors have had on forest fires during past decades and will have in the future, in particular on vegetation and landscape.
The JRC works closely with national and European authorities to monitor forest fires and to minimize their negative effects on the environment. It has developed and manages the European Forest Fire Information System(EFFIS), which covers the full cycle of forest fire events.Through its website, EFFIS provides fire danger predictions up to nine days in advance of their occurrence, as well as updated daily information on active fires, burned area and fire damages in Europe. Additional modules in EFFIS analyse post-fire effects such as soil erosion and gas emissions and use satellite imagery to monitor the recovery of vegetation in the burnt areas.
Using the EFFIS database, the JRC maps large fire events and analyses their history (frequency, density, incidence, seasonality) and trends over the past 20-30 years.
Built on the ongoing activities of EFFIS, the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) was set up as a joint initiative of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Copernicus-EU's Earth observation programs, aiming at bringing together existing information sources at regional and national level to provide a comprehensive view and evaluation of fire regimes and fire effects at global level and to provide tools to support operational wildfire management from national to global scales.
A pine forest in the distance with the orange glow of a forest fire in the background.
Fire risk is related to persistent droughts which can be monitored with the Global Drought Observatory, the latter integrates products of GWIS to understand better the interdependent relations between the two disaster types.