News from the UN: Report on the FAO/ITTO International Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management, ANNEX 4 (IFFN No. 24 – April 2001)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Report on the
FAO/ITTO International Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management
Rome, Italy, 7-9 March 2001

(IFFN No. 24 – April 2001, 78-98)


Report of Working Group 2:

Inter-Country Agreements to Share Resources in Emergencies

The working group addressed issues, constraints and recommend actions relating to inter-country Agreements to establish operational procedures and share resources, information, personnel and equipment in situations of emergency. This would include review of the feasibility to share heavy land and aerial equipment and prospects for development on a wider geographic basis.

Working Group 2 (Legal Instruments)

Balatsos, P. (Greece)
Bekele, M. (Ethiopia)
Cedeño Sánchez, O. (Mexico)
Heine, J. (South Africa)
Kizmaz, M. (Turkey)
Mutch, R. (USA)
Sanhueza, P. (Chile)

Sneeuwjagt, R. (Australia)
Vélez Muñoz, R. (Spain)
Paveri, M. (FAO, Chief, FONP)
Mekouar, A. (FAO, LEGN)
Allard, G. (FAO, FORM)
Malagnoux, M. (FAO, FORC)

Forest Fire Emergency Cooperation Agreements

The Group identified the existence of a number of Forest Fire Emergency Co-operation Agreements at various levels, including:-

  • in-country Agreements
  • central level
  • local level
  • bilateral Agreements; and
  • multilateral Agreements

A list of Agreements known to exist and referred to by the experts in given in Annex 5.

It will be necessary to use the comprehensive and proven instruments as base documents for other countries seeking or providing assistance to derive their own Agreements suited to their unique circumstances.

Key contents to be considered by countries as a base for preparation of their Agreements are listed in Annex 6.


Considering that:

Forest fire management was closely linked to sustainable forest management practices;

Member countries were strongly encouraged to establish sustainable forest management policies and practices to reduce the flammability of forests. If sustainable practices were not established, then emergency responses of any kind would ultimately fail;

Member countries were encouraged to activate strong and effective fire prevention campaigns. It was better to prevent a wildfire than fight one. Prevention implies public awareness, equipment and infrastructure preparation, enforcement and fire fuel management;

Member countries were encouraged to develop effective emergency response procedures internally, so that they would be able to more effectively receive outside assistance;

Widespread emergencies in recent years in all regions of the world had underscored the importance of having International Agreements established in advance of fires;

Efficient emergency assistance required prior planning among all parties due to the nature of forest fires to prepare personnel, organisation, equipment, procedures, etc.

It was recommended that FAO and ITTO and other relevant partners:

  • Develop Agreements bilaterally and multilaterally (at regional or global levels, as appropriate), with due consideration to conditions which may vary region by region;
  • Encourage the development of new Agreements through existing regional and other mechanisms. taking into consideration experiences to date;
  • Provide technical support to member countries in development of Agreements at national and regional levels;
  • Compile an inventory of existing Agreements to serve as models for others. In this regard, FAO may consider distributing a questionnaire soliciting opportunities for new Agreements;
  • Activate a task force to track and monitor progress in the development of Agreements and develop an action plan that defines objectives, outputs, activities, inputs, costs, timeframes and responsibilities to implement the recommendations of the International Expert Meeting;
  • Review possibilities for developing appropriate funding mechanisms to encourage action leading to the development of Agreements;
  • Assist countries to describe and establish mutually compatible incident management organisation systems to facilitate the integration of international resources;
  • Review and apply regional or eco-regional, or global, “Fire Season Tables”, showing coincidence of overlapping fire seasons in determining availability of international resources (example given in Annex 7.);
  • Review the possibilities to coordinate the tasks of information updates and sharing;
  • Review recommendations and identify appropriate organizations and agencies to take action;
  • Develop training, technical exchanges and briefing programmes between countries in non-crisis situations in preparation for emergency response;
  • Develop emergency simulation response exercises among countries;
  • Assist to establish an international forest fire information centre to facilitiate the sharing of world-wide information among all partners regarding such items as: Agreements, resources availability, contact points, etc. This centre would provide real time situation reports and conditions. In addition, the centre would be institutionalized to provide an advisory role in assisting countries to develop Agreements and respond to emergencies;
  • Disseminate information on issues and experiences in the use of volunteers, local communities and other resources in prevention and remedial action in forest fire management;.
  • Disseminate information and support training in the application of airborne and remote sensing technologies as tools in integrated fire management.


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