Forest fires constitute one of the main threats for sustainability of forest ecosystems and the continuity of their multifunctional role.
Countries neighbouring the Baltic Sea (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden) hereinafter referred to as Baltic States, are one of the regions in Europe with high fire risk and significant level of environmental contamination. Forests of that region are very valuable for the nature as well as in economic and social terms. Great majority of forest fires break out as a result of direct or indirect human activities. Due to global environmental changes and ever increasing pressure imposed on the forest by the societies we should expect further increase of fire risk in that region.
To solve current and future problems regarding forest fire protection it is necessary to constantly enhance and standardise forecasting, detection and extinguishing activities and improve legal regulations.
The prerequisite for the effectiveness of those activities is development of comprehensive cooperation in the field of science, technology and organisational aspects with the contribution from the public on international, national and local level.
The Conference recognises that forests in the Baltic States should be managed in compliance with biodiversity principles. Considering the above factors, we find it necessary to create an international programme for fire protection in the Baltic states. Protection of woodlands against elemental disasters should be included in cooperation agreements especially in transboundary areas.
The Conference recommends that problem of forest fires should be handled in compliance with the Action Plan Baltic 21, regional activities of the International Decade for Natural Disasters Reduction (IDNDR), as well as other programmes.
I. Prevention activities
Forest management should encompass to need to strengthen natural resistance of forests to damaging forces, including fires. The tasks to be undertaken in this field are in particular: adaptation of tree stands composition to habitat conditions, protection of biodiversity, improvement of water retaining capacity in woodlands and enhancement of infrastructure.
Prevention activities should be particularly intensified in highly contaminated areas, especially with radioactive substances, where, besides economic losses, fires cause reoccurrence of contamination.
Fire protection problems should always be considered with regard to drafting spatial management plans which include among others increase of afforestation rate, spacial order in woodlands and development of infrastructure.
It is necessary to develop cooperation to enhance training programs for forest and fire control services.
It is recommended to further expand informational and promotional activities to raise social awareness, in particular on the local level.
II. Forecasting, detection and extinguishing activities
Fire protection in woodlands should constitute an integral part of national rescue programs.
With regard to exchange of information and resources among the Baltic States we recommend to develop Baltic programs and exchange mechanisms which would include scientific research connected with fires, impact of global environmental changes and use prescribed fire (in forestry, nature conservation and landscape management), training on fire protection and mutual assistance.
It is necessary to undertake steps to improve legal regulations which refer to the establishment of forest rescue systems and financing methods as well as oblige businesses imposing fire risk for woodlands to protect them and remove damages.
We should aim at enhancing transboundary cooperation in the field of early warning, monitoring, detection, fire suppression, exchange of information and undertaking joint initiatives.
For the purpose of fire control all forests should receive the same treatment regardless of their ownership structure, in particular in those countries in which forests are reprivatized.
We should improve telecommunication systems and ensure their compatibility and reliability, especially in transboundary areas.
We should undertake initiatives to remove barriers among Baltic States with custom relieves and subsidies which enable transfer of technical resources used in forest protection.
III. Post-fire activities
Recultivation of burned forests should be treated as a separate problem in science and in forest practice and subject of international exchange in this field.
Baltic states should render mutual assistance in the area of availing technical resources and consultancy.
It is recommended to develop an advanced system of collecting fire statistic at international level,particularly including damages of forest stands affected by fire.
IV. Within further development of international cooperation in the field of fire control among the Baltic States we recommend to
We find it useful to initiate a tradition to hold biannual working meetings of representatives from Baltic States.
It is necessary to unify systematic legal solutions regarding fire prevention in Baltic States.
Participants express their thanks to those who initiated, prepared, summoned the Baltic Conference on forest fire and ensured perfect organisation. Participants are kindly requested to disseminate recommendations form this Conference.