Initial landscape fire management (LFM) workshop in Skopje


As part of the Landscape Fire Management Programme in the Western Balkans (LFMWB), the Initial landscape fire management (LFM) workshop was held in Skopje on the 30th of March 2023. The workshop was organized by the LFMWB Country Partner Institution (CPI), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy of North Macedonia in cooperation with the Regional Fire Monitoring Center (RFMC). In the workshop, the LFM stakeholders had an opportunity to be introduced to the objectives of the LFMWB Programme, the LFM concept, their role as members of the LFM networks (science-practice policy interface) and their contribution to the process of developing Country reports with LFM guidelines.

In the opening speech, Ms. Vjolca Berisha, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of N. Macedonia, highlighted the necessity for identifying effective strategies and policies for better landscape fire management. The risks and threats of forest fires and fires on agricultural land are increasing due to the change in land use and climate change. Therefore, better preparedness, more effective prevention, and collaboration at national level are essential, stated the Deputy Minister. Furthermore, she acknowledged the continuous support of the Ministry for implementing the activities of the LFMWB Programme.

The Chargé d’Affaires at the Swiss Embassy, Mr. Lucien Aegerter, emphasized that better prevention and cooperation, as well as coordination at the local, regional, and national levels, are necessary to deal with landscape fires. In 2021, the countries of the Western Balkans, including North Macedonia, faced devastating fires that affected landscapes and endangered human lives. All that showed that actions are necessary for better prevention and preparedness to effectively deal with landscape fires, as well as the involvement of all relevant stakeholders at the local, regional, and national level, said Mr. Lucien Aegerter. He highlighted that the establishment of effective and active national networks as a science-practice-policy interface is crucial for the LFM.

Mr. Cvetan Nikolovski, team leader of the LFMWB Programme, pointed out the need for national and regional cooperation to jointly tackle the risks and threats of landscape fires, in the context of land use change and climate change. He emphasized the necessity for holistic and timely responses, focusing on prevention and preparedness and thoroughly rethinking landscape fire management at the local, national, and regional levels. He specified that the LFMWB Programme builds on national and international know-how and expertise, on transboundary action, and has the ambition to contribute to a substantial and lasting collaboration in the Western Balkan.

The principles of the landscape fire management approach and the role of RFMC, as the regional cooperation mechanism and knowledge network on LFM in the Western Balkans, were thoroughly explained by the head of RFMC, Mr. Nikola Nikolov. The aim of his presentation was to create a common understanding among the participants about landscape fire management, the current situation in the Western Balkans and possible cooperation at the national and regional level.

Stakeholders from more than 25 different relevant institutions including science, practices, and policy sectors from the Republic of N. Macedonia actively participated in the workshop. They expressed their interest in the LFM topic and had fruitful discussions during which they jointly agreed on the importance of having a cross-sectoral collaboration and alignment of the roles of the institutions regarding LFM. They emphasized the significance of focusing on prevention and preparedness and the need for the cohesion of the LFM system at the national level. The LFM stakeholders jointly expressed their willingness to have continuous work and to establish a fully operational LFM network at national level with an aim to contribute to creating fire-resilient landscapes.

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