GFMC entrusted by the Prime Minister of Greece to lead a National Committee on Perspectives of Landscape Fire Management in Greece
09 August 2018 – Last Update: 30 August 2021
On 23 July 2018 fast-moving wildfires near Athens affected the resorts Kineta and Mati and resulted in the death of 102 people, numerous injuries and the loss of critical infrastructures, houses, and private assets. Following the publication of statements by the head of the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), Prof. Dr. Johann Georg Goldammer, by the Greek News Agency ANA-MPA on 4 August 2018, a phone conversation between the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, was held on 7 August 2018. In this phone conversation, Prime Minister Tsipras asked Prof. Goldammer if he would be available to set up and lead a committee under the aegis of GFMC. The aim of the committee will be to investigate the underlying causes of the wildfire risks in the country and to develop recommendations for required reforms and policy measures in order to increase the resilience of the natural, cultural and urban-industrial landscapes of Greece and the people living therein against wildfires, and to prevent such disastrous events in the future. On a press conference on 9 August 2018, the Prime Minister added that the move aimed at excluding any possibility of political influence and biased findings.
After having accepted this proposal the head of GFMC met with the Prime Minister Tsipras on 23 August 2018 at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.
An agreement was reached about further procedures and the modus operandi of the “Committee on Perspectives of Landscape Fire Management in Greece”. The head of GFMC also consulted with the parliamentary opposition leader, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to reach an agreement of multi-partisan support of the work of the Committee in the Hellenic Parliament.
The Commission decided to refrain from press interviews and other public statements, with the exemption of a few public statements in the Public TV and a News Agency (23 August 2018), at an interim press conference on 31 October 2018 and a second press conference after the delivery of the report of the Commission to the Prime Minister and the President of the Hellenic Parliament on 8 February 2019 (see below).
On 23 August 2018 the head of GFMC met with the Prime Minister Tsipras at the Maximos Mansion. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister
On 23 September 2018, the head of Committee introduced the Liaison Team to the State Minister and Spokesperson of the Government of Greece, Mr. Dimitrios Tzanakopoulos, at the Maximos Mansion. From left to right: Giorgos Mallinis, Georgios Eftychidis, Johann Georg Goldammer, Dimitrios Tzanakopoulos, Gavriil Xanthopoulos, Ioannis Mitsopoulos, Alexander Dimitrakopoulos.
Briefing of the Greek media by the Committee (from left to right: Ioannis Mitsopoulos, Gavriil Xanthopoulos, Johann Georg Goldammer, Alexander Dimitrakopoulos, Georgios Eftychidis, Giorgos Mallinis).
Delivery of the Report to the Government of Greece
On 7 February 2019 the “Report of the Independent Committee tasked to Analyse the Underlying Causes and Explore the Perspectives for the Future Management of Landscape Fires in Greece” was handed over to Prime Minister Tsipras, the President of the Hellenic Parliament and the Standing Committees on the Protection of the Environment, Production and Commerce and Public Administration, Public Order and Justice. Furthermore, the Committee briefed the Parliamentary Groups. On 8 February 2019 the report was handed over to the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Briefing of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Maximos Mansion by the Committee, with participation of State Minister Dimitrios Tsanakopoulos and the Secretary for Civil Protection, Ioannis Tafyllis (on 7 February 2019). Photo: Maximos.
In order to create enhanced awareness of policy makers, politicians, administrators and scientists to bring the state of science and knowledge to practical and pragmatic application, the leadership of the Global Wildland Fire Network has decided on 9 May 2019 to launch the “Global Landscape Fire Award”. This prize will be awarded to individuals or institutions for:
Recognition for the Successful Achievements in Reducing the Adverse Impacts of Landscape Fires on the Environment and Humanity and the Promotion of Sustainable and Safe Application of Fire in Land Use and Ecosystem Management.
The Global Landscape Fire Award is a non-monetary award, which will be granted for the first time in 2019.
Based on the assessment of her achievements this first Award will be granted to Dr. Ir. Siti Nurbaya, MSc, Minister for Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia.
Ceremony of handing over the Global Landscape Fire Award 2019 on 11 September 2019 in the Ministry for Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta, to the laureate Dr. Ir. Siti Nurbaya, MSc, Minister for Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia, and Certificates of Distinction for Prof. Dr. Ir. Bambang Hero Saharjo, M.Agr., Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) (right) and Dr. Ir. Raffles Brotestes Panjaitan, MSc, Director of Forest and Land Fire Management, Directorate General of Climate Change, Ministry for Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia; Jakarta, Indonesia (left). Photos: Ministry for Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia.
Prof. Dr. Bambang Hero Saharjo, head of the Regional Fire Management Resource Center – South East Asia (RFMRC-SEA) and Indonesia’s lead expert witness on environmentally catastrophic peatland fires, has been awarded the 2019 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science for his courage and integrity in standing up for sound science in the face of harassment, intimidation, and law suits (GFMC co-nominator); London, United Kingdom).