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Every year there are more than 50,000 forest fires in Europe, affecting over 500,000ha of forest and other woodland, the majority of which occur in the Mediterranean Region. Although fire is a naturally occurring factor of the Mediterranean climate that plays an important role in the distribution, organisation and evolution of the ecosystem, human influence has intensified its impact and altered natural fire-cycles.

This report is the result of the work carried out within the INFOREST action at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy. INFOREST was initiated with Framework Programme 6 of the European Commission, aiming to give support to the European Parliament and Council's regulation EC No. 2152/2003 concerning the monitoring of forests and environmental interactions in the Community. The two main aspects of this regulation are the monitoring of air pollution effects on forests and the monitoring of forest fires at the European level. The forest fire aspects that have been developed during Framework Programme 5 were Forest Fire Risk Mapping and Burnt Area Mapping nd Damage Assessment. Indeed, these two aspects are the first steps towards a European Forest Fires Information System (EFFIS). Other research aspects that are of significant interest are the monitoring of vegetation regeneration after large forest fires, the effects of fire on soil loss and the erosion as well as on land slides and floods, and the atmospheric emissions produced by forest fires.

Additional information

Authors: TWELE A, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster, Munster (DE)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 21010 EN (2004), 142 pp. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9893 Fax: +39 033278 5409 E-mail: or Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32 2 295 76 24 Fax: +32 2 299 63 22
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