Use of Prescribed burning in Middle-East and South East Europe

Project leader: Daniel Nagy


Prescribed Burning in Europe


In the history of land-use in Eurasia fire has been an important element in forestry, agriculture and pastoralism. The use of fire has contributed to shape landscape patterns of high ecological and cultural diversity, e.g. heathlands, open grasslands, meadows, and swidden (shifting) agriculture sites. The rapid socio-economic changes in the past four decades led also to a change of landuse systems and landscape patterns, resulting in elimination of traditional burning practises. New air quality standards and the generally prevailing opinion by the government administrations that fire would damage ecosystem stability and biodiversity, led to imposing of fire bans in most European countries. It should be becoming evident that the abandonment of traditional land-use methods have resulted in the elimination of disturbances, which have characteristically shaped many valuable landscape types and ecosystems. Changing paradigms in ecology and nature conservation currently lead to the reconsideration of fire-exclusion policies in certain sectors of nature conservation, forestry and landscape management.

Increasing wildfire and land management problems in Middle East and South East


An increase fire hazard has been noted in the region in the last decade as a consequence of an increasing extent of abandonment of land-use and management of private agricultural lands and forests. The main reason of abandonment was the decreasing of rentability of the farming in small value.

In these areas, which are often under natural protection, the fuel loads have increased rapidly in the last decades. The most land management tool, such as scything or crushing of stems are to expensive or because of the steep slopes not at all possible. The increasing fuel loads in these areas cause not only an increasing fire hazard but also a degradation of ecosystems.

There are two common way of the degradation:

  • Beacause of the massive succession on the open land areas the protected species drying out.
  • Because of the high fuel load the wildlandfires in the hot summers period cause site degradation.

The well planned, timed and performed prescribed burning could be a near natural and cost-effective management method for these areas. A good planned prescribed burning of the not managed agriculture areas and other grass and shrubland with a fire frequency between 4-8 years would be expressly desirable.



The use of prescribed burning needed and need a small paradigm change between the foresters, park managers and firefighters.

To find the decision, in which stand types can used the prescribed burning to prevent large wildlandfires and site degradation we need urgent research activity in this field. Only after evaluation of this research burnings can be defined the requirements and recommendations in reference to prescribed burnings. By the help of correct use of prescribed burning, not only economical profit through the cheaper landscape management and forest fire prevention can be realized, but also the potential fire hazard in the most dangerous summer period can be reduced.

Our first impressions and experience confirmed, that the well planed and performed prescribed burning could be a near natural and cost effective management method for these areas. Requirements are that the regional land and forest management offices are well equipped for firefighting and prescribed burning activities. Currently the largest difficulty will be to manage the prescribed burning together with fire prevention public relation programs.