The National Observatory of Forest Fires (NOFFi) got a distinction by the Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies (NEREUS) for the development of the innovative burned area mapping service NOFFi-OBAM.
NOFFi is a research project recently implemented by the Laboratory of Forest Management and Remote Sensing (FMRS) of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), funded by Greece’s Green Fund with the beneficiary being the Central Forest Service. NOFFi resulted in the development of products and services related to the prevention of wildfires as well as the management of burned areas.
The NOFFi-OBAM service exploits Sentinel-2 satellite data from Copernicus (the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme) in order to provide accurate burned area mappings shortly after the fire has been extinguished. The burned area maps are exploited by a network of foresters/collaborators serving at both the Central Forest Service and the local forest departments, in order to address international, national, and regional commitments. During the three years of operation (2016–2018) the service has mapped 160 wildfires in Greece, on the country’s borders as well as in Cyprus, with a total burned area of about 61.000 hectares.
AUTh Professor Dr. Ioannis Gitas (NOFFi’s scientific coordinator), Dr. Dimitris Stavrakoudis (FMRS researcher and member of the NOFFi team), and Dr. Dimitris Vakalis (General Director of Forests and Forest Environment of the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy) attended an event in the European Parliament on November 22, 2018, where NEREUS publication The Ever Growing Use of Copernicus Across Europe’s Regions was launched. The publication includes the 99 best applications that exploit Copernicus satellite data and have a positive impact on the everyday lives of the European citizens. The NOFFi-OBAM service was not only included in this publication, but was also selected as one of the top 5 among these 99 applications. As a reward, NEREUS offered the creation of a professional video, promoting the NOFFi-OBAM service as an example of how Copernicus data can be exploited for the benefit of the citizen. The video shooting took place the following day in Brussels and will soon be released to the public.