Forestry Department says 2022 the best year for dealing with fires

Areas affected by forest fires were at a historic low in 2022, the Forestry Department has said in a press release based on the overall assessment of the year.

According to the data cited, the state forest area burned was the smallest since 1960, just 0.4 hectares, the forest area burned was the smallest in twenty years, just 30 hectares, the average area burned per forest fire was the smallest in 20 years, at just 0.5 hectares, the percentage of wildfires in total fires was the smallest in a decade at 31%, and the area of the largest fire of the year was the smallest in twenty years at just 3.6 hectares.

During 2022, in the area of responsibility of the Forestry Department, 179 fires broke out, with a total burned area of 143 hectares. Although the number of fires was 18% higher than the 2012-2021 average (152 fires), the burned area was 77% lower than average (611 hectares). The average burned area per fire for 2022 was 0.8 hectares, while the corresponding one for the decade amounts to 4 hectares, a reduction of 80%.

Of the 179 fires, only 57 were forest fires which burned a total area of 30 hectares, the lowest in twenty years while the average area burned per forest fire was 0.5 hectares which was again the lowest in twenty years.

Regarding the causes of forest fires for 2022, intentional fires rank first, amounting to 50% of all human-caused forest fires and 44% of all forest fires. For this reason, the Forestry Department points out, the technology systems that are installed will not only aim at early detection and better management of the fire incident, but also at identifying the perpetrators of intentional fires. A percentage of 12% of all forest fires is due to natural causes (lightning), while the remaining 44%, is due to human negligence.

“The results of this year’s fire season, in the area of responsibility of the Forestry Department, are considered to be exceptional. It is noteworthy that in 2022, in the Forest Department’s area of responsibility, the largest forest fire had an area of only 3.6 hectares,” the department said in its press release.

It added that “a particularly important element is the total area of the state forest that burned this year, which, as mentioned above, amounts to only 0.4 hectares. This area is the smallest annual burned area of state forest since the 1960, when data on forest fires were recorded,” says the announcement.

The main factors that contributed to the above results were, according to the department, the improvement of its operational capacity, due to the improvement of planning and organisation as well as the strengthening of the forest fire response system.

Source: Cyprus News Agency