Landscape Fire Management Training: A Comprehensive Case Study on LFM in Greece


In the frame of the SDC’s Landscape Fire Management in the Western Balkans (LFMWB) Programme, the training on Landscape Fire Management (LFM) was held virtually on the 15th of December 2023. This training was organized by the Regional Fire Monitoring Center (RFMC), in collaboration with the Regional Executive Agency (REA). In the training, more than 30 Programme partners and representatives from various institutions in the Western Balkans (WB) participated.

The training began with a presentation from the head of the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), Mr. Johann Georg Goldammer, discussing global LFM practices, emphasizing the need for cross-sectoral collaboration and community involvement. The overview highlighted challenges, evolving national strategies, and the importance of creating fire-smart landscapes through a harmonious blend of tradition and science.

Moreover, Mr. Gavriil Xanthopoulos had a presentation referring to a critical review of Landscape Fire Management in Greece focusing on the evolution, challenges, and opportunities. He is an associate researcher specializing in forest fires at the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization “Demeter”.

In his presentation, he pointed out that the LFM history of Greece has witnessed significant transformations, from the early challenges faced by the Greek Forest Service (GFS) to the present-day struggles with escalating landscape fires. This review aims to assess the trajectory of fire management in Greece, highlighting key milestones, policy shifts, and the effectiveness of implemented strategies.

The years following the transition in Greece witnessed a series of catastrophic events, including the devastating fires of 2000, and 2007, and the tragic loss of 102 lives in 2018. An independent committee formed in the aftermath of the 2018 disaster proposed “Integrated Forest Fire Management,” but its recommendations faced selective application.

Despite increased resources, the fire problem in Greece worsened, with record-breaking burned areas in 2021 and 2023. The escalating fire problem can be attributed to various factors, including climate change, fuel accumulation, rural population reduction, and changes in people’s attitudes.

The current LFM approach emphasizes technological advances, increased spending on firefighting resources, and strengthening civil protection. However, there is a lack of honest assessment of results, attention to spending efficiency, and the focus on prevention.

Various scenarios are proposed for addressing the wildfire issue, ranging from leaving forests untouched (Scenario 1) to increasing attention to fire prevention (Scenario 2) or adopting Integrated Landscape Fire Management (ILFM) (Scenario 3). He highlighted that ILFM, despite its complexity, is crucial for achieving both effectiveness and efficiency.

Overcoming the knowledge gaps, political considerations, and bureaucratic obstacles were identified as key challenges in Greece. Opportunities lie in LFM, involving the rural population, and fostering cooperation at national, regional, and international levels. The need for a paradigm change, emphasizing prevention and community involvement, was pointed out as essential as well.

The LFM training significantly enriched participants’ understanding of global LFM practices and holds particular importance in shaping a perspective applicable to the unique challenges of the Western Balkans under the LFMWB Progrmme.


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