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Protection of Religious and Other Cultural Assets against Wildfires

Many religious and other cultural heritage sites are embedded natural ecosystems that are subjected to wildfire risk. Within the regions of the Global Wildland Fire Network emphasis is given to support religious communities to protect temples, churches, mosques, monasteries, seminars, worship sites, including holy trees and groves. Examples of from Europe and the Near East:

Protecting the Creation from Wildfires – The Roles of Religious Leaders and the Interfaith Dialogue

The religions of mankind assume a unity of man and his faith with nature and bow in respect to creation and the protection of the environment and man (cf. Heiler, Friedrich. 1958. Die Religionen der Menschheit (Kurt Goldammer, ed.), 9th Edition, Reclam, Stuttgart, 1999, 672 p). The GFMC and the Regional Fire Management Resource Centers are cooperating closely with religious leaders. In 2020, the Regional Fire Management Resource Center – South East Asia (RFMRC-SEA) worked with the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative:

Audience and briefing with His Beatitude and Eminence Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant (center), with GFMC Director Johann Georg Goldammer (left) and Joseph Kreidi (UNESCO Regional Bureau, Beirut), and Mgr. Samir Mazloum, President of Community for the Salvation of the Qadisha Valley (COSAQ) (right), Lebanon, 04 September 2010.

Protection of cultural heritage to wildfire: GFMC Meeting at Couvent Saydet Qannoubine, a fortress palace for the Maronite Patriarchs from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with Mère Clemence Helou surrounded by Johann G. Goldammer (GFMC), Riad Keirouz, Mr. Joe Kreidi (UNESCO, Beirut), and Mr. Ghazi Qassar (Head, Centre des Forets du Liban Nord), 03 September 2010. © Photo: GFMC.

Impressions of the wildfire, which affected Chios Island (Greece) in August 2012: The wildfire burning in the highland forests of Chios threatened Nea Moni Monastery, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. © Photo: GFMC.

His Eminence Bishop Markos, Metropolitan of Chios, Psara and Oinousses, representative of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, addressing the Conference Our Response to Wildfire Threat – Cooperation of a better Chios, organized under by the Maria Tsakos Foundation, sponsored by the Minister of Mercantile Marine and Island Policy of Greece, and in cooperation of the Regional Prefecture of Chios Island; Omireion Cultural Center and Maria Tsakos Foundation, City of Chios, Chios, Greece.

Historic graveyard around a church in Serbia – use of fire to halt overgrowing of gravestones by vegetation encroachment. © Photo: GFMC (2007)

Fire also recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage

Based on a decision of the German UNESCO Commission and the Federal Conference of the Ministers of Culture of Germany the traditional „Biikebrennen“ has been included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Germany on 12 December 2014. The „Biikebrennen“ is the fire traditionally set on 21 February along the West coast of Schleswig-Holstein State since the 17th Century as a farewell sign to the whalers who were leaving at that time of the year to their long journeys.


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