Spring and summer of 1992 were the period of the biggest forest fire disaster in Poland during the last 50 years. In this period the extent of forest fires exceeded several times the average forest fire burden of the last 50 years. The area of forests affected by fire in 1992 was ca. 43,000 ha. For the first time for several years large forest fires were encountered. Four large fires were in the range of 3,000 to 9,000 ha. This was a consequence of the extreme drought and wildfire risk during the Summer of 1992 which affected the whole of Northern Europe.
The environmental and economic consequences are severe: Air pollution, disturbance of watersheds, secondary pests in fire-damaged forests, economic losses due to premature harvest, increment reduction, damaged timber, etc. Furthermore, high costs are involved for restoration of burned forests. These activities will require 2-3 years. Polish forestry intends to purchase special equipment for salvage logging (including debarking) and transport. Purchase of these equipment requires large expenditures, a difficult task in the light of the actual financial situation of forestry in Poland. The required share of the state budget in financing these expenditures may be insufficient. Polish forestry units therefore require external assistance to accomplish this huge task. Foreign assistance, in form of technical or financial aid, is urgent and may help to mitigate the overall losses the forests of Poland suffered in 1992.
From: Jan Smardzewski Director, Department of Forestry Address: Ministry of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry ul. Wawelsky 52/54 PL-00-922 Warszawa