European Wildfires on Pace to Set Record Forestland Losses in 2022

Citing data provided by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), the AFP News Agency reported on Sunday (8-14-22) that approximately 660,000 hectares (1,630,000 acres) of land have been ravaged by wildfires since January 1st through August 13th, 2022. That is 56% higher than the previous record set over the same time period in 2017, when 420,913 hectares burned.

The EFFIS projects that if 2022 follows a similar path as 2017, Europe is on course to see more than a million hectares of land destroyed. In 2017, it reached 988,087 hectares.

“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,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel told AFP. Since 2010 there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with blazes in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory,” he added.

Spain has been particularly hard hit this year. Wildfires in Spain have destroyed 244,924 hectares of land. Romania is not far behind with 150,528 hectares, and Portugal has seen 77,292 hectares of land destroyed since the start of the year.

EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). CAMS warned Friday (8-12-22) that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger.” It labeled several areas of Spain as high risk including Andalucia, Castilla, Leon, Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia regions.

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Europe set for record wildfire destruction in 2022