Fire Management on Terrain Contaminated by Radioactivity, Unexploded Ordnance
and Land Mines in Temperate-Boreal Eurasia
LANDSCAPE FIRE BULLETINS AND SAFETY ADVISORIES DURING THE WAR IN UKRAINE
During the war, the aggression and partial occupation of Ukraine by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which started on 24 February 2022, wildfires are occurring as collateral damages and purposely set. The Regional Eastern Europe Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMC) and GFMC are monitoring the situation. Landscape Fire Bulletins include updates on fires on the territory of Ukraine (in ecosystems, agricultural lands and in cities, including updated maps of active fires, updated fire statistics, maps and details of large fires). Safety Advisories have been issued to address the threats of wildfires burning on terrain contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO) and radioactivity. The maps show monthly accumulated locations of fires depicted by satellites.
The REEFMC provides three dedicated portals in English language:
WWF-REEFMC-GFMC Report on Forest Management on Territories Contaminated with UXO
In November 2022, WWF Ukraine published the report “Forest Management on Territories Contaminated with Unexploded Ordnance”, which has been written and produced by WWF Ukraine together with the Regional Eastern Europe Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMC) and Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) within the framework of the project “Supporting responsible forestry for sustainable development in Central and Eastern Europe”. The English summary was published in February 2023:
Readers of the websites of REEFMC and GFMC are aware of the engagement of REEFMC staff and students of the Institute of Forestry and Landscape-Park Management of the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine (NUBiP). In June 2022, Semen Oblomei, a third year student of NUBIP, was killed in Donbass, Eastern Ukraine, in line of duty of defending Ukraine against the military aggression. Semen Oblomei has worked with Regional Eastern Europe Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMC) and participated as a volunteer in First Firefighting School of NUBiP in May 2021. In April 2021, Semen together with staff of REEFMC, established a fire resilient forest edge in Boyarka Forest Research Station of NUBiP – an activity of German-Ukrainian project RESILPINE (German / Ukrainian) in partnership with GFMC.
The monthly maps are derived from various satellite sensors – courtesy Orora Wildfire Detection and Monitoring from Space and other sources. Please find monthly maps embedded in the Ukraine Landscape Fire Bulletins above. The following maps show the summary map of 2022 and – as an example – the map of active landscape fires of March 2023.
Total fires depicted by satellite sensors in Kyiv Oblast, 01-15 March 2022. Source: REEFMC.
The bombardments and rocket attacks by Russian Armed Forces are causing fires in residential areas / cities and surrounding landscapes. Satellite-derived locations of fires in the map show the situation on 15 March 2022 NW Kiev and Irpin. Source: Orora.
Facebook SITREP of the General Staff of Armed Forces, Ministry for Defense, Ukraine, 23 March 2022, reporting about land mining by Russian Forces.
Radioactive emissions from wildfires burning in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (ChEZ) on 11 March 2022, transport towards Ukrainian territories. Source: https://nubip.edu.ua/node/106588
Radioactive emissions from wildfires burning in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (ChEZ) on 16 March 2022, transport towards Belarus. Source: https://nubip.edu.ua/node/106588
In 2013 the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) published a comprehensive White Paper directed to the United Nations and International Organizations entitled “Vegetation Fires and Global Change – Challenges for Concerted International Action”. This White Paper includes an analysis of dangerous wildfires affecting human security in the landscapes of Eurasia, including threats of fires burning on lands contaminated by radioactivity, UXO and land mines:
Ground and aerial impressions of UXO-contaminated territories in Germany: Advanced armoured and UAV technologies for safe prescribed burning and wildfire control. Source: GFMC (Goldammer et al. [2012, 2016]; see references further down; project website [in German]).
Safe Fire Management on Contaminated Terrain In 2014 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) commissioned the Report ”Best practices and recommendations for wildfire suppression in contaminated areas, with focus on radioactive terrain” (Goldammer, J.G., Kashparov, V., Zibtsev, S., Robinson, S., Freiburg-Basel-Kyiv, 53. p.)
In 2018 the Regional Eastern Europe Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMC) published the pocket guidelines for fire management in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, a result of cooperative efforts between REEFMC, the Chornobyl Fire Management Agency and the U.S. Forest Service:
International Consultation on Fire in Irradiated Forests An International Meeting on Reduction of Disaster Risk from Catastrophic Wildfires in the Chernobyl Irradiated Forests was held under the auspices of the National Agricultural University of Ukraine, Yale University, GFMC / UNISDR in Kiev, Ukraine, 25-28 July 2007.
Ukraine: Second National Round Table and Consultation on Irradiated Forests
The Ministry of Ukraine on Emergencies and Affairs of Populations Affected by the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe convened a Round Table on Reduction of Risk of Disaster from Wildfires in the Chernobyl Irradiated Forests. The meeting was held on 6 October 2008 at the Ministry and cosponsored by Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry (U.S.A.) and the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC).
Advanced Seminar Wildfires and Human Security: Fire Management on Terrain Contaminated by Radioactivity, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Land Mines This seminar addressed the consequences of wildfires and fire management on contaminated terrain and was conducted in Kiev and Chornobyl, Ukraine, 6-8 October 2009, by the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) in the frame of the activities of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the joint project Enhancing National Capacity on Fire Management and Risk Reduction in the South Caucasus (Environment and Security Initiative [ENVSEC]), the UNISDR Regional Southeast Europe / Caucasus and Central Asia Wildland Fire Networks and the UNECE / FAO Team of Specialists on Forest Fire.
International Conference ”Twenty-five Years after the Chornobyl Accident”
The International Conference ”Twenty-five Years after Chornobyl Accident. Safety for the Future” was held in Kyiv / Chornobyl, Ukraine, 20-21 April 2011. A joint presentation ”Needs for Development of Wildfire Management in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone” was given by C.D. Oliver, S.V. Zibtsev, A.M. Hohl, J.G. Goldammer, J. McCarter, M.M. Petrenko and O.A. Borsuk.
Opening addresses of the Chornobyl Conference were given by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Prime Minister of Urkaine, Mykola Azarov (top and middle), and the Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano (bottom)
Regional Consultation Meeting “Environment and Security”
Regional Consultation Meeting: Initiative “Environment and Security”: Perspectives of Environmental Cooperation in Eastern Europe, with the participation of the Regional Eastern European Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMC), with inputs on fire management needs in contaminated forests; Minsk, Belarus (8 September 2014).
Letter of the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) directed to the Government of Ukraine
On 11 February 2016 the GFMC sent a letter to Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and suggested the further development of fire management capacities in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (ChEZ) (establishment of an innovative system of early detection of fires in the ChEZ and continuation of cooperation in developing fire management capacities in Ukraine between GFMC and Ukrainian partners) (11 February 2016)
Conserving, Enhancing and Managing Carbon Stocks and Biodiversity in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Inception Workshop of the UNEP-GEF Project “Conserving, Enhancing and Managing Carbon Stocks and Biodiversity in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone” with the fire management component ; Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine (MENR) and State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management, Kyiv, Ukraine (18 April 2016)
Kick-off of the OSCE Project on collaborative efforts in fire management in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone between Ukraine and Belarus
Consultation on the project “Improving radiological and environmental awareness in territories affected by the Chernobyl accident in Belarus and Ukraine with a focus on wildfire management” (2016-2018); OSCE Office Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine (18 April 2016)
First Coordination Meeting on Enhancing Fire Management Capacity in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
First National Coordination Meeting on Enhancing Fire Management Capacity in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a cooperative meeting organized by the Regional Eastern European Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMC), the U.S. Forest Service and the GFMC, with GFMC contribution on the International Wildfire Preparedness Mechanism (IWPM) and the EuroFire Competency Standards; preparation of the National Round Table on Fire Management, Ukraine, and the Regional Consultation on Cross-boundary Cooperation in Fire Management (to be held in Kyiv in 2017) under sponsorship of the Council of Europe (CoE), Secretariat of the Euro-Mediterranean Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA); Kyiv, Ukraine (22-23 September 2016)
Participants of the Coordination Meeting Introductory remarks by Petro Lakyda (National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine), Johann G. Goldammer (GFMC), George Kent (Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United State to Ukraine) Introductory remarks by Sergiy Zibtsev (REEFMC) Introductory remarks by Vitalii Petruk (Head of the State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management) and Shelia Slemp (U.S. Forest Service International Programs) Audience members from different ministries and agencies of Ukraine. Photos: REEFMC / NULESU
Bilateral Fire Emergency Response Exercise between Belarus and Ukraine
In the frame of the project Improving radiological and environmental awareness in territories affected by the Chernobyl accident in Belarus and Ukraine with a focus on wildfire management, a bilateral exercise addressing crossboundary fires burning on radioactively contaminated terrain was prepared and coordinated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Regional Eastern European Fire Monitoring Center (REEFMRC) and GFMC (J.G. Goldammer); 17-18 May 2018, Gomel Oblast Department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus, Gomel, Belarus.
The first joint table-top exercise of Ukrainian and Belarussian agencies responsible for fire management and emergency situations was conducted in Gomel, Belarus, under the auspices and sponsorship of the OSCE. Upper photos: Incident commanders from Belarus (left) and Ukraine (right) were supported by a team of moderators (blue vests), administrators (red) and observers / rapporteurs (yellow). Middle and lower photos: Evaluation session and group photo. Photos courtesy OSCE / Evgeniy Maloletka.
Regional Workshop Landscape Fire Management in South Eastern Europe
The workshop was organized by the Regional Fire Monitoring Center For SE Europe / Caucasus (RFMC) and GFMC, on behalf of the Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities. It addressed fire management on terrain contaminated by unexploded ordnance (UXO) and land mines; 17-19 December 2018, Skopje, North Macedonia.
Satellite-depicted radioactive smoke transported generated by the fires burning in the Western part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on 4 April 2020 (upper), progress of the fires and burned area on 5 April 2020 (middle) and active fires burning in the so-called “Red forest”, the most contaminated forest close to the sarcophagus of Block 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, on 9 April 2020. Sources: Sentinel and Planet.
The following publications describe a first and leading project devoted to develop safe prescribed burning techniques on terrain contaminated by Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), first published in 2012 (in German with English abstract) and again after termination of the project in 2016 in English, and since 2018 also available in three additional languages:
Hohl, A., A. Niccolai, C. Oliver, D. Melnychuk, S. Zibtsev, J.G. Goldammer, M. Petrenko, V. Gulidov. 2012. The human health effects of radioactive smoke from a catastrophic wildfire in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: A worst-case scenario. J. Earth Bioresources and Life Quality 1, 1-34, ISSN 2221-1713.