EU Parliament’s debate: Climate Change and Forest Fires in Europe

The Conference was organized on 20 March 2019 at the European Parliament, Brussels, and was co-hosted by MEP Nuno Melo (EPP/PT) and MEP Andrzej Grzyb (EPP/PL).

The event addressed the link between climate change and forest fires, which are likely to become more frequent in the coming decades, and how sustainable forest management can contribute to tackle this issue. There seems to be a clear trend towards longer fire seasons compared to previous years, with fires now occurring well beyond the summer period, and the fire risk is projected to change almost everywhere in Europe. In 2018, forest fires have heavily affected, among others, Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Finland, and Latvia; countries in which forest fires have not been a concern in past years.

Extreme fires can release huge amounts of CO2 in a very short time. They do not just burn up trees and shrubs and emit smoke. They impact European citizen’s life and properties and also leave behind long-lasting changes on the ground. Those changes have effects on the climate, including by damaging forests that would otherwise sequester carbon.

The event provided insights on the state of play of forest fire events in Europe and discussed the reasons for these developments. It also highlighted the urgent need to boost prevention and preparedness efforts, through active  sustainable forest management, to avoid a repetition of the previous years.

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