The main goal of this research project is the establishment and pilot operation of an Observatory of Forest Fires, aiming to develop a series of modern products and services for supporting the efficient forest fire prevention management in Greece and the Balkan region, as well as to stimulate the development of transnational fire prevention and impacts mitigation policies.
This project is a collaboration between the General Directorate of Forest and Agro-environment Development and Protection (Ministry of Environment and Energy) the Laboratory of Forest Management and Remote Sensing (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and the Interbalkan Environment Center, funded by the Greek State (Green Fund).
Current Status and Vision
Forest fires play a crucial role in forming the natural ecosystems especially in the Mediterranean region. Their occurrence is mainly associated with:
- the increase of fuel concentration due to the abandonment of farmland,
- the change of traditional ways of farming and grazing and
- the observed climate change, particularly in Mediterranean ecosystems which is characterized by the rise in average temperature that leads to increased dryness of the vegetation, and thus to a higher risk of a new fire to occur.
In Greece, as in the other Mediterranean countries, fires are the most common problem that affects the Greek forests. The particular Mediterranean climatic characteristics, combined with the vegetation types that dominate in Greek forests, favor the frequency and spread of forest fires. It is worth mentioning that more than two million hectares of forests and woodland have been lost in the last two decades (EFFIS).
In recent years, certain emphasis is given in successful prevention and mitigation of fires (e.g. fuel type mapping, fire risk indices) as well as in the assessment of their impact on the environment (e.g. burned area mapping, burn severity assessment). Remote sensing offers the potential to provide spatially distributed information regarding the state of the managed areas and it has been widely used at both regional and local scale.
National Observatory of Forest Fires – NOFFi aims to develop a series of modern products and services for supporting the efficient forest fire prevention management in Greece and the Balkan region, as well as to stimulate the development of transnational fire prevention and impacts mitigation policies.
More specifically, NOFFi provides three main fire-related products and services:
- a remote sensing-based fuel type mapping methodology
- a semi-automatic burned area mapping service
- a dynamically updatable fire danger index providing mid-term predictions.