In some regions globally rural settlements (villages, towns, scattered farmsteads) and other rural assets (agricultural fields / crops, infrastructures and other values at risk) are increasingly endangered by wildfires. This trend is driven by the consequences of land-use change, regional climate change and particularly by the rural exodus, which has resulted in the weakening of rural work force and self-protection ability, and increasing wildfire hazard on abandoned lands. Recent major wildfire disasters in all continents reveal that government authorities and civil society, notably rural communities, are not sufficiently prepared to prevent and reduce the risk of wildfires, to defend rural communities and rural assets at risk, and to protect human health and altogether human security against the adverse direct and indirect impacts and consequences of wildfires.
In order to enhance the capabilities of local rural communities to defend themselves against wildfires a set of guidelines was developed for the Balkans as a pilot region in order to:
Provide a practical technical document designed as a support tool for the protection of people and local rural communities in the Balkan region from wildfires.
Serve as a starting point and basis for the exchange of expertise and concepts within the Council of Europe / UNECE / OSCE member states to continuously expand capacities in rural fire management.
The guidelines were prepared with the support from the European and Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA) set up by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The collaborating centers are the Global Fire Monitoring Center (Germany), the Regional Southeast Europe / Caucasus Fire Monitoring Center (Skopje) and the Eastern European Fire Monitoring Center (Kiev). Members of the UNECE/FAO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire and the UNISDR Regional Eurasian and SE Europe / Caucasus Wildland Fire Networks contributed to the development of the guidelines.
For details of structure and objectives please see the introductory part. The guidelines are available in English, Greek and languages for the Western Balkans (other languages to follow):