In the future, the risk of forest fire will be a permanent threat of summer in Austria as well. How we can better deal with it is being researched in the Austria Fire Futures project.
Disaster reports from forest fire areas around the globe have dominated the headlines in the summer months of recent years. In this country, too, people will have to get used to the fact that the forest is not an optimal place to enjoy romantic campfires or carelessly snip away a cigarette, especially in summer.
So far, forest fires have not posed a great danger in the Alpine Republic. Although about 100 to 300 forest fires take place every year, burning areas of one hectare on average, global warming is increasing the risk of several and larger fires. This trend even affects relatively humid regions such as the Alps, where higher temperatures combined with winters with little snow, lightning activity and pronounced dry periods favour an increased occurrence of forest fires. Of course, the most common cause of fire is and remains human. People are responsible for about 85 % of fires.
How high is the risk?
Under the direction of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg (Lower Austria), the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) and the Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW) are researching domestic mountain forest systems with regard to their forest fire risk. The project “Austria Fire Futures” intersects different hazard variables in forest fire risk models. For example, the morphology of the terrain, the availability of combustible material or the recreational activities in the area are of importance. The data will be accessible as dynamic fire risk maps on a public platform in the future.
The project will also help to better understand the dynamics in vulnerable forest areas in the face of climate warming. The results of the work will enable experts and practitioners to look into the future and include the prevention of forest fires in their silvicultural planning.
Project title: Austria Fire Futures
Project title long: Integrated Future Wildfire Hot Spot Mapping for Austria
Duration: 01.10.2022 – 30.09.2025
Project website: https://iiasa.ac.at/news/oct-2022/dealing-with-higher-fire-frequencies-in-alpine-region
Funding body: Climate and Energy Fund – ACRP 14
Project Management: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Project partners: BFW (Austrian Research Centre for Forests) and University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU)
Tobias Schadauer, Federal Forest Research Centre, Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8, 1131 Vienna, 1131 Wien, email@example.com