Forest Fire Vulnerability

Key messages:

  • Map portrays vulnerability; a combination of changing biophysical impacts and the capacity of the forestry sector to adapt to changing climate conditions
  • Southern EU countries may face moderate increases in forest fire vulnerability
  • Most regions in the north of the Mediterranean are projected to face low or very low vulnerability to fires

Why is the content of this map important?

Research suggests that forest fire damage in Europe may increase due to increasing droughts and high temperatures. However, the ability of the forestry sector to adapt to changing hazards and cope with future impacts will also play a role in fire impacts. This map brings the two concepts together to indicate the vulnerability of regions to changing fire hazards.

Which sectors are affected by this result?

The primary effect of fires falls on the forestry and ecosystem services sectors, with losses of fuelwood and timber as well as impacting tourism and recreation. Agricultural production may also be impacted, as well as damage to property and loss of life.

What is shown on the maps?

The map depicts the estimated future vulnerability of regions to changing carbon emissions from forest fires. Vulnerability is the combination of the increase of biophysical impacts with the ability of a region to adapt to these changes, measured by its adaptive capacity (AC). Estimates of AC are combined with an estimate of changing fire carbon emissions transformed into an indicator of the severity of change. An area with a high change in impact, combined with low AC, is seen as highly vulnerable, whereas regions with little change in impacts and high AC are viewed as less vulnerable. In this case, southern EU countries are projected to remain moderately vulnerable to fires in the future, but northern countries face low to very low vulnerability.

Details and further information:

This map is the combination of impacts with adaptive capacity. These impact indicators were derived from a multi-model ensemble estimate of changing fire losses in grams of carbon per square meter per year. On the other hand, estimates of AC were produced via an indicator approach, which can be seen in the Atlas map on the adaptive capacity of the forestry sector.

Additional information:

To identify vulnerability, adaptive capacity projected for different regions was combined with potential impacts estimated by the LPJmL and CLM models. LPJmL was driven by the five mandatory climate simulations whereas for CLM only four out of the five simulations could be used(see topic on Forest Production)  Hence, the ensemble consists of 9 simulations in total.

vulnerability categorical values
0-4 4-8 8-12 12-16 16-20
very low low moderate high very high


Keith Williges

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)