Fire is a very prevalent disturbance on the global landscape with several hundred million hectares of vegetation burning every year. Wildland fires have many serious negative impacts on human safety, health, regional economies and global climate change. Developed countries spend billions every year in an attempt to limit the impact of wildland fires. In contrast, developing countries spend little, if any,money to control fire, yet they are often the most susceptible to the damaging impacts of fire because of increased vulnerability of human life and property (due to limited fire suppression capability), increased risk due to high fire frequency (often caused by the cultural use of fire), and sensitive economies (tourism,transport).
To mitigate these fire-related problems, forest and land management agencies, as well as land owners and communities, require an early warning system to identify critical time periods of extreme fire danger in advance of their occurrence.Early warning of these conditions with high spatial and temporal resolution incorporating measures of uncertainty and the likelihood of extreme conditions allow fire managers to implement fire prevention, detection and pre-suppression plans before fire problems begin. Considering the fact that the majority of uncontrolled and destructive wildfires are caused by humans as a consequence of inappropriate use of fire in agriculture, pastoralism and forestry, it is crucial that international wildland fire early warning systems are developed to complement relevant national fire danger warning systems where they exist, to provide early warning where national systems do not exist, and to enhance warnings applied or generated at the local (community) level (people-centered early warning systems as requested by the UN Secretary General and as laid down in the Hyogo Framework for Action 20052015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters).This will ensure delivery of targeted information reflecting specific local conditions and allowing the involvement of local communities in wildland fire prevention.
Hosted by Germany under the auspices of the United Nations, the Third International Conference on Early Warning (EWC III) took place in Bonn, Germany, 27 to 29 March 2006.The Wildland Fire Community had been invited to participate at EWC III. Two project proposals for the Global Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (requested by the Hyogo Framework for Action and the UN Secretary General) have been endorsed by the UN and were presented at EWC III. The Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) coordinated the participation of the international wildland fire community.
Johann G. Goldammer
The Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) / Fire Ecology Research Group
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry,
c/o Freiburg University / United Nations University
D – 79110 Freiburg