Conference on Forest Fire Management and International Cooperation in Fire Emergencies in the Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans and adjoining Regions of the Near East and Central Asia

Antalya, Turkey, 30 March – 3 April 2004

The Eastern Mediterranean Region, including the Balkan countries, the ECE member states of the Near East and Central Asia, and other neighbouring countries of Central Asia, e.g. Mongolia and China, have recently suffered major forest and other wildland fire problems.

The causes of an increasing occurrence of wildfires in forests and other wildlands, including the underlying reasons for increasing human-caused fires, vary within the region and are due to:

  • Transition from centrally planned to market economies
  • National to regional conflicts, creation of new nations
  • Increasing population growth and land-use pressure
  • Regional climate change towards increase of extreme droughts

It has been recognized that no regional activity is underway to establish cooperation in wildland fire management, including wildland fire science.

Several reasons support the idea for holding a regional conference. First, the Balkan countries, some of them being in a post-war situation and under reconstruction, as well as the South Eastern European countries which are still in economic and political transition, have not participated in recent activities of the UNECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire and other international wildland fire research and development projects. Second, the neighbouring countries of Turkey, such as the Caucasus states, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, have been quite isolated from recent scientific and technological developments in fire management. Third, the fire problems in Mongolia and northern China, and to a limited extent in Afghanistan, call for cooperation with the ECE region.

From the point of view of the UNECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire and the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), which coordinates the work of the team in the ECE region and liaises with the Global Wildland Fire Network, the countries listed above deserve full attention and support to bring them into the family of the international community of forest fire scientists, managers and policy makers.

With reference to the objectives of the Global Wildland Fire Network (facilitated by the GFMC) and the recommendations of the International Wildland Fire Summit (Sydney, Australia, 8 October 2003) the Antalya conference will also serve as a follow-up of the Summit and provide an opportunity for a joint regional meeting for the Regional Wildland Fire Networks of the Mediterranean, Balkans and Central Asia. Other Regional networks, notably the arrangements under the FAO (FAO Silva Mediterranea, FAO North American and Latin American Forestry Commissions), are also invited.

Opening of the conference by Johann Georg Goldammer, Leader of the UNECE/FAO/ILO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire and head of the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC)

Opening remarks by Jorge Najera, Secretariat of the Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee on Forest Technology, Management and Training, and Mike Jurvélius, Forest Fire Management Office, FAO

Report by Nikola Nikolov, Coordinator, Regional Southeast Europe / Caucasus Wildland Fire Network

Report by Daniel Nagy “Forest Fires in Hungary: Current Situation and Prospects for the Future”

The Conference Group. © Photos: GFMC



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