2022 sees record destruction of forest fires in Europe, says EU

Europe’s scorching summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU’s satellite monitoring service.

And while Mediterranean countries have normally been the main focus of fires in Europe, this year other countries are also suffering heavily, AFP said.

This year’s fires have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Portugal. ‘Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, according to data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), setting a record at this point of the year since the start of data collection in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heat waves, wildfires and historic drought that experts say are due to human-induced climate change.

They warn that more frequent and longer heat waves are on the way.

For nearly two weeks last month, thousands of firefighters battled to put out Slovenia’s biggest forest fire in modern history.

But the most affected country was Spain, where the fire destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data, followed by Romania (150,528 hectares) and Portugal (77,292 hectares).

EFFIS uses satellite data from the European Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

The data comes after CAMS said on Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that much of western Europe is now in ” extreme danger of fire”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” said EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel. In 2017, 420,913 hectares burned as of August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said. .

Since 2010, there has been a trend of more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “do not normally experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is actually mainly driven by countries in the Mediterranean region, except for years like this, when fires also occur in central and northern regions,” he said. he added.