Due to climate change and global warming, the number of forest fires increases every year, the fire-prone areas become larger and the fire-prone periods last longer. The harmful consequences of forest fires have a devastating effect, such as:
- An average of 300 fatalities each year due to forest fires, in recent years these numbers are even significantly higher. In 2017 in Portugal alone on two occasions nearly 100 people died. The material and immaterial losses of those who survived forest fires are indescribable.
- In addition each year 340.000 premature deaths are caused by inhaling smoke from forest fires. The health of millions of people is affected by forest fires. (see EU report 2012)
- NASA Earth Observatory reports: Today, an estimated 5.6 gigatons of carbon are released into the atmosphere each year due to fossil fuel burning. Burning of forests contributes another 2.4 gigatons of carbon per year; or, about 30 percent of the total. (see NASA report 2016) Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for decades or even hundreds of years. Once these trees burn in a forest fire, the CO2 of all these years is released again.
- Worldwide each year on average 20 million hectares of forest are lost to forest fires, and this number is increasing rapidly during the last decade. It takes nature 7 to 10 years to recover.
- In the US alone, annual losses caused by forest fires are around 200 billion US dollars, divided between the federal government, the various states and the competent forest management authorities. (see report GFMC 2013)