Forest fires (unwanted fires burning forests and wild lands) are a major hazard throughout Europe, producing large environmental and economic losses and having an impact on human lives, for example between 2000-2017
• 8.5 million ha burned, approximately 480000 ha/year.
• 611 firefighters and civilians killed, nearly 34 people/year.
• Economic losses over EUR 54 billion, approximately EUR 3 billion/year.
Due to climate change, economic loss may increase up to 5 billion because of increased greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, analyses of European forest fires occurring in the last 30 years show an increase in the length of the fire season. Another consequence is the new wildfire context, characterised by rapid fire spread, intense burning, long-range fire spotting and unpredictable shifts.
The trend in recurring and tragic fire seasons in Europe reflects the limits of conventional wildfire and forest management strategies and programmes in efficiently addressing the phenomenon. Progress has been made to date at different levels, however, this new context calls for more effective science-based forest fire management and risk-informed decision-making which account for the socioeconomic, climate and environmental roots of wildfires.
The EU has contributed in many ways to tackle this problem. These years, more than 103 million euros have been invested in firefighting projects through programmes such as LIFE or Horizon 2020 or Cross-border cooperation in the following areas: fire science, prevention, detection, suppression, post-fire recovery and fire integration. Moreover, EU Research & Innovation (R & I) has played and continues to play a key role in identifying and addressing these policy challenges.
In the future, it is planned to keep funding these projects framed in Horizon Europe through the Euratom Research and Training programme with 2.4 billion euros, as well as its second pillar “Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness” offering:
• 15 billion euros to Digital and Industry actions
• 2.8 billion euros to Inclusive and Secure societies
• 15 billion euros to Climate, Energy and Mobility
• 10 billion euros to Food and Natural Resources
Help address the climate change impact as well as economic and human losses rewarding startups both, in the research and implementation stages, offering solutions to fire prevention, extinction and recovery.
The most important eligibility criteria are the following: