A new report highlights the need for greater collaboration between EU institutions and members states to tackle the growing problem of destructive fires across the bloc, which are causing farmland to burn.
According to the report, wildfires destroyed nearly 178,000 hectares (ha) of forests and land in the EU last year. While this is less than one sixth of the area burnt in 2017, and less than the long-term average, more countries than ever before suffered from large fires.
The highest numbers of fires of 30 ha or larger were mapped by the European Forest Fire Information System in Italy (147 fires, 14,649 ha burned), Spain (104 fires, 12,793 ha burned), Portugal (86 fires, 37,357 ha burned), the UK (79 fires, 18 032 ha burned) and Sweden (74 fires, 21,605 ha burned) during last year.
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, said: “We need to respond and step up our efforts to make our forests more resilient to a warmer and drier climate. Evidence provided by the Joint Research Centre allows us to focus on the most effective ways to prevent wildfires, helping us protect our forests, which is key to preserve biodiversity and citizens' quality of life."