Republic of Srpska

The Republic of Srpska, located in the northern and eastern regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, covers an area of 24,641 square kilometers, excluding the Brčko District. Forests dominate the landscape, accounting for 1,309,785 hectares. 1,008,000 hectares are dedicated to agriculture, with 816,000 hectares suitable for cultivation.

Overview

The Republic of Srpska, located in the northern and eastern regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, covers an area of 24,641 square kilometers, excluding the Brčko District. The region plays a significant role in land use, with 2,505,300 hectares of land. Forests dominate the landscape, accounting for 1,309,785 hectares, of which 77% are state-owned. This makes the Republic of Srpska a vital player in the forestry industry. Additionally, 1,008,000 hectares are dedicated to agriculture, with 816,000 hectares suitable for cultivation, contributing significantly to the local and national economy.

Land use in the RS based on the land cover map and the method of use for the year 2017 (Source: The basis of the protection, use and arrangement of the agricultural land of the Republic of Srpska as a component of the land use planning process; Agricultural Institute of RS Banja Luka, Institute for Agrochemistry and Agroecology)

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Forest area

1,3
million ha

Agricultural land

1
million ha

Protected areas

73
thousand ha

Mined areas

501
km²

Demographics in the Republic of Srpska

As of the 2013 census, the Republic of Srpska (excluding the Brčko District) had a total population of 1,228,423, with a population density of 49.9 inhabitants per square kilometer. This region covers 49% of the land area of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is home to 34.79% of the country’s total population. In 2019, the overall life expectancy at birth was 77.15 years, while the total fertility rate stood at a remarkably low 1.34 children per mother.

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Population distribution by municipalities (1 Dot=500 persons) (Source: Census 2013)
Population density by municipalities of Republic of Srpska. Source: Institute for urbanism of Republika Srpska
Projected number of inhabitants in Republic of Srpska according to different assumptions of fertility trends. Source: Proposal to amend the Spatial plan of the Republic of Srpska until 2025

Climate Characteristics and Change in Republic of Srpska

Climate significantly influences wildfire occurrence, with increased risk during hot, dry summer months. Republic of Srpska’s climate is influenced by geographical factors, geological features, and meteorological conditions. It experiences three climate types: Northern Peri-Pannonian, Alpine and Pannonian, and Modified Mediterranean-Adriatic.

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Mean annual temperature in Republic of Srpska for the period (1961-1990) (Source: Threat assessment of the Republic of Srpska from natural disasters and other accidents, CZRS 2013.)
Average annual precipitation in Republic Srpska for the period (1961-1990) (Source: Threat assessment of the Republic of Srpska from natural disasters and other accidents, CZRS 2013.)
Change in temperature in oC and precipitation in % for the winter season. (Temperature change in oC (left) and precipitation % (right) for the winter season -DJF (above) and the spring season - MAM (below)
Change in temperature in oC (left) and precipitation in % for the JJA and SON seasons (Change in temperature in oC (left) and precipitation in % (right) for the JJA season (top) and the SON season (bottom)

Major Stakeholders in Landscape Fire Management in the Republic of Srpska

Identifying and analyzing stakeholders’ impact on Landscape Fire Management (LFM) is crucial for implementing sustainable strategies. Stakeholders are individuals, institutions, or organizations that can influence LFM goals, both before and after fire occurrences. They include national and local governments, NGOs, Academia, regional institutions, corporations, media and last but not the least, communities, especially the most vulnerable. These stakeholders can either proactively plan and conduct activities like mitigation, prevention and preparedness or reactively respond to fires. In the Western Balkans, national and local authorities are increasingly recognizing the importance of multistakeholder participation in long-term risk reduction approaches. However, local government units in the Republic of Srpska often lack knowledge about LFM risks, community vulnerabilities, and disaster risk reduction measures. .

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Organizational Setup of Landscape Fire Management in the Republic of Srpska

In the Republic of Srpska, addressing longstanding challenges in wildfire management has led to the current landscape fire management approach. This approach involves various stakeholders, such as government ministries, public enterprises, state institutions, educational institutions, and NGOs. However, its effectiveness faces critical challenges.

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Legislation Governing Landscape Fire Management in the Republic of Srpska

In the Republic of Srpska, several key legislative documents are related to landscape fire management:

  1. Law on Fire Protection
  2. Forest Development Strategy
  3. Nature Protection Strategy
  4. Law on Forests
  5. Law on Nature Protection
  6. Law on National Parks
  7. Law on Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development
  8. Law on Environmental Protection
  9. Law on Spatial Planning and Construction
  10. Law on Agricultural Land:

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Landscape fires

Landscape fires play a vital role in various ecosystems worldwide, driven by factors like carbon-rich vegetation, dry seasons, and human activities. In the Western Balkans, human actions are the primary cause of landscape fires. While ignition often results from human activities, the spread of landscape fires depends on environmental factors such as fuel type, weather conditions, and terrain.

In the Republic of Srpska, wildfires peak in March and August due to drought and human influence, particularly rural abandonment that leads to increased vegetation and vulnerability. However, historical record-keeping practices lack specific geographical data, hindering a comprehensive analysis of landscape fires. To address this, an improved recording system is essential.

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Burnt areas:

139722
ha

Forest growing stock loss:

869296
m3

Number of forest fires:

3593
The ratio of the number of fires to the burnt areas(Source: Republic Statistical Institute of the Republika Srpska)

Fire risk assessment

Fire risk assessment involves evaluating potential dangers from unwanted fires to people and property. It considers the likelihood of fire scenarios and their consequences. Short-term risk pertains to immediate factors like weather and fuel influencing fire ignition and behavior. It informs prevention, pre-suppression, and detection efforts. Medium-term risk considers structural factors that change slowly, including human activities and land use. It assesses ignition probability related to human settlements and potential damage.

Weather significantly impacts fire behavior, along with vegetation characteristics. Short-term risk uses indices combining weather and plant data to predict ignition and spread. Wildland fire risk comprises fire hazard (likelihood of fire) and vulnerability (potential damage). Medium-term risk studies fire regimes, ignition likelihood, and landscape-scale spatial patterns.

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SWOT Analysis

The Landscape Fire Management (LFM) system’s strengths and weaknesses offer insights into its current state and areas for improvement. In the Republica Srpska’s landscapes, several factors, including depopulation of rural areas, shifting land uses, and increasing recreational activities, have created complex challenges. These issues have led to conflicts, with fire often becoming a violent tool in disputes.

Unplanned depopulation and abandonment of traditional land uses have resulted in dangerous accumulations of light fuel in forests. Conflicts arise from the use of fire for agricultural purposes and waste disposal. Unbalanced resource allocation between suppression and fuel management has led to increased vegetation growth. Grazing land and the use of fire for maintenance have also contributed to conflicts.

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LFM guidelines

The Landscape Fire Management guidelines provide a comprehensive framework for effective decision-making in fire prevention, mitigation, and response efforts. Derived from workshops in Banja Luka, these guidelines address key challenges in landscape fire management:

  1. Fire Safety Education
  2. Education Integration
  3. Media Engagement
  4. Awareness Campaigns
  5. National Fire Protection Program
  6. Early Warning System
  7. Integrated Fire Statistics
  8. Land Management Authority
  9. Enhanced Oversight
  10. Interagency Collaboration
  11. Training
  12. Data Sharing
  13. Regional Cooperation
  14. Legislative Changes
  15. Consistent Execution
  16. Additional Forces

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