WWF report says Human activity responsible for 96% of wildfires around the Mediterranean basin
The WWF Spain study analyzed the causes of origin for wildfires in Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Turkey which account for 80% of the total surface burnt across Europe every year and concluded that only 4% of them are natural.
Any 96% of wildfires in the countries around the Mediterranean basin started by human activity, the World Wildlife Fund indicate on Thursday.
At least 40% of wildfires caused by human activity are the result of negligence or accidents.
Another 26% of wildfires were intentional, with reasons ranging from disputes between neighbors or forest authorities to conflicts over wolf or hunting.
More than 224,000 hectares have already burnt across Europe this year, nearly four times the amount recorded at the same time in 2018.
Wildfires not only have an in-depth environmental impact, but they also cost an average of €2 billion a year to combat.
The human cost is also high as 222 people have died over the past two years in Spain, Greece, and Portugal because of wildfires. 66 people died in Pedrogao Grade, Portugal in 2017, while the Attica wildfires in Greece last year claimed 100 lives.
Experts are now warning against the rise of “super fires” or mega-fire which spread at high speed up to 4,000 hectares per hour, making them extremely difficult to contain.
“Mediterranean ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change. Also, in southern Europe, we suffer the cumulative effects of rural depopulation, the abandonment of traditional uses, the absence of forest management, a chaotic model of urbanism and the deep-rooted culture of fire” the report states.