The alpine forest fires
During the last decades, frequency of forest fires had a large increase: nearly 20.000 ha of Alpine forests, in addition to grassland and not wooded territory, are burned each year. Forest fires affect most of Alpine Space regions in Winter and early Spring, nevertheless frequency and burned area are increasing also in Summer, possibly due to climate changes. The risk of forest fires is raising in the northern Alps also (e.g. Austria, where the hot spots are close watching). Alpine forest fire scenario is peculiar with severe morphology, vulnerability and low resilience to the phenomenon. A relatively little amount of fire of small extension, particularly on repeatedly surfaces, has strong effects on the ecosystems -decreasing the biodiversity- human safety and mountain economy with widespread erosion, loss of soil and possible triggers of landslides. Wildfires have an important impact on the air pollution also with consequences for human health and on the greenhouse gases balance. The social and economic expenditures in the Alpine Space regions are rapidly increasing in an attempt to limit the impact of wildland fires but they are becoming unsustainable, therefore preventive actions must be taken to reduce their incidence. Some prevention activities are carried out at regional/national level, but an harmonized approach and a structured mutual aid across and beyond borders is missing at the Alpine scale. A common strategy, including modulation and coordination of alerting processes and means dislocation, multidisciplinary cooperation among scientists, technicians, civil protection operators and decision makers, increase of public awareness and adoption of common operational protocols, is strongly demanding by policymakers (Photo by CEREN).