Forest fires are a huge threat in both environmental and economic terms. In Mediterranean countries, which have about 80 % of the total area burned by forest fires in Europe each year, the severe impacts include lost lives, lost carbon sinks and lost raw materials. Burned areas in Mediterranean countries cover about 4 500 square kilometres annually. Globally, CO2 emissions from forest fires each year are equivalent to more than 50 % of the emissions released from fossil-fuel combustion.
In the Mediterranean area, Portugal suffers most from forest fires. The most severe fire in 2017, in the centre of the country, killed 64 people and destroyed 45 039 hectares of forest. Spain is also highly affected, with an average annual burned area of 108 282.39 hectares (data for 2005 to 2014). Galicia in north-west Spain has only 10 % of the country?s forest area, but accounts for half of Spanish wildfires.
To regenerate areas scarred by forest fires, LIFE REFOREST will demonstrate the implementation of a strategy to mitigate soil loss using a Technosol, or soil derived from organic waste (including cereal straw, sawdust and wool) treated with fungal species. Use of this material will help boost the natural regeneration of affected areas, improve the soil structure, provide organic matter and nutrients to the soil, and enhance water retention.
The project will test the cost effectiveness of the approach in two areas, with the expectation that the costs will be less than ?300 per hectare. The project will also develop and provide recommendations to local, regional and national authorities on post-fire remediation strategies. The project will contribute to realisation of European Union priorities such as the prevention of soil degradation (as in the EU Soil Thematic Strategy, COM (2006) 231), forest restoration (EU Forest Strategy, COM (2013) 659), minimisation of water pollution (Water Framework Directive, 2000/60/EC) and recovery of carbon sinks (2050 EU Low-Carbon Economy Roadmap, COM (2011) 112).
Expected results: Compared to a baseline scenario in which no additional measures are put in place, the project will: