Forest fires, Italy the most affected in the EU

Forest fires Italy the most affected in the EU

(Finance) – The season of fires forested in 2021 it was the second worst in the EU territory in terms of overall burnt areasince registrations began in 2006: 500,566 hectares have been devastated by fire, more than double the surface of Luxembourg and with a sharp increase compared to the 340,000 hectares recorded in 2020. Almost a fifth of the burnt areas (102,598 hectares) are ‘inside of protected areas “Natura 2000 “which constitute the EU biodiversity reserve.

These are the conclusions of the latest edition of the Annual report on forest fires in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, published today by Joint Research Center (Jrc) of the European Commission. According to the report, in 2021 theItaly it was the most affected country in the EU in terms of burnt area (151,964 hectares), followed by Greece (108,418 hectares), Spain (87,880) and Portugal (28,360). Furthermore, Italy alone accounts for almost a quarter of the total burned area within Natura 2000 sites, closely followed by Spain. The Italian regions most affected in 2021 were the Sicily (59,872 hectares), la Calabria (28,481) and the Sardinia (25,805).

While referring to the situation in 2021, the report also contains, as a preview, some alarming data for 2022. From January to the end of October, the fires were even more destructive than last year, having devastated an area of ​​about 8,600 km2 (860,000 hectares). The record negative however, that of 2017 remains, when the fires affected a total area of ​​over 1 million hectares in the EU. The report notes a downward trend in number of firesbut with an increase in surfaces burned. Furthermore, he reports that the number of human victims has been contained thanks to the preventive measures implemented by both the Member States and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

In 2021, the Mechanism was further strengthened with an increase in capacity in terms of aircraft, helicopters and other firefighting vehicles to assist member countries. This support was used extensively during the fires that hit the Mediterranean region in 2021 and 2022. This increased capacity is coordinated by the “Emergency Response Coordination Center“of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Office. The Joint Research Center supports this action by providing timely information on ongoing fires and helping to deploy EU-funded aircraft where they are most needed. This year, the Civil protection mechanism it was activated 11 times by six countries, with requests for airplanes, helicopters and firefighters: it is the second year with the highest number of requests to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in the last decade.