Assessment of Forest Fire Impacts and Emissions in the European Union Based on the European Forest Fire Information System
An analysis on the number of forest fires and burned area distribution as retrieved by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) database is presented. On average, from 2000 to 2005 about 95,000 fires occurred annually in 23 European countries, burning almost 600,000 ha of forest land every year. Of these about two-thirds or 65,000 fires occurred in 5 European Union (EU) Mediterranean countries (France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) where on average half a million hectares of forest land were burned every year. In addition, out of the 23 European countries, the total burned area was 86% within those 5 countries alone during the 6-year study period, and out of the 19 EU countries the total for the 5 countries was 96%. Estimates of atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other trace gases were done for the 2000–2005 period in which burned area maps were retrieved using remote sensing imagery, and then combined with fuel load and burning efficiency figures, to estimate the quantity of burned biomass. Emission factors were further used to estimate trace gas and aerosol emissions produced by vegetation fires. Fuel load was estimated based on values found in the literature and from existing land cover maps of Europe. Average burning efficiency and emission factors were retrieved from the literature. The results obtained show that the forest fires atmospheric emissions of the 23 European countries considered in this study ranged from 8.4 to 20.4 Tg of CO2/year.