France: The 1990 Forest Fire Season in France (IFFN No. 4 – December 1990)


The 1990 Forest Fire Season in France

(IFFN No. 4 – December 1990, p. 6)      

Following the extraordinary dry year of 1989 an extended drought occurred in the first half of 1990 and extremely aggravated the fire danger. Despite all the fire prevention and control efforts which were launched, the fire season of 1990 was similar to 1989 and comparable with the year 1976 concerning the number of incidents and the size of destruction.

    The provisional data of 1990 amount to a total of ca. 80,000 ha of forest and sub-forest formations affected by fire. Some of the most beautiful forest sites in the Mediterranean zone were affected and destroyed again, totalling 55,000 ha in Calanques de Cassis, Foret des Maures, and the area of the lake of Saint-Cassien. A couple of days of strong Mistral in a the desiccated vegetation are responsible for quasi the whole of the surface burned.

    In the Landes of Gascogne the spring fires and the dry lightning storms of 12 August 1990 ravaged ca. 10,000 ha of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster).

    The government plan which became effective in fall 1989 and which was aimed to accelerate the rehabilitation of burned forests and to improve fire prevention (mandatory fuel reduction campaigns, new forest fire brigades) will be continued in 1991. According to a “Conseil des Ministres” of 24 October 1990 in a statement of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry four elements of the upcoming campaign were presented:

    • More restrictive control of forest conversion
    • Modification of urban planning regulations in order to restrict the spread of residential areas scattered in the forest lands
    • More precise regulations for fuel reduction
    • Strengthening of coordination of the fire control services



From:  M. Cyrille Van Effenterre
Chef du Bureau de la Protection de la Foret
Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Foret
Direction de l’Éspace Rural et de la Foret
Sous-Direction de la Foret
78 Rue de Varenne
F – 75700 Paris

Phone: +33-1-49 55 49 55

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