Several "mega forest fires" have ravaged southern Europe this year. The risk of forest fires is expected to increase in Luxembourg in the coming years due to climate change. How do we prepare for this?
"Fire weather" (ger.: "Feuerwetter") is the name given to the periods of particularly dry, hot and windy weather that can lead to exceptional forest fires, such as those that devastated large parts of southern Europe last summer. While climate change is now being felt all around the world, temperatures in the Mediterranean region have risen exceptionally fast. Here, it is already 1.5 degrees warmer on average than it was before industrialisation began.
While some of the world's biotopes are adapted to such firestorms to the extent that they are part of a regularly blazing ritual of renewal, in the Mediterranean region they are new on this scale – and devastating instead of renewing. In Italy, France, Greece, Turkey and Spain, some 3,900 square kilometres of forest were destroyed in 2021 – significantly more than the whole area of Luxembourg. But in Russia, too, millions of hectares of forest burn down every year, according to WWF, relatively unnoticed because it happens in isolated regions. Here, entire ecosystems that were previously densely forested are becoming deserted.
Luxembourg has historically been largely spared from forest fires thanks to the moderate temperatures. However, these threaten to increase in the future – as they do everywhere. Last year, an unusually large fire for the region broke out at the Stauséi. Two hectares of forest burned down, 10 people had to be evacuated. The extent is so far small, compared to other countries.
But Luxembourg must face the "increasing risk of forest fires". "Due to an increase in heat and drought periods, the risk of forest fires may increase", warns the report "Adapting to climate change in Luxembourg – climate impacts, recommendations for action, measures", by the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development. Around 35 percent of the country is forested and thus potentially at risk. The consequences are far-reaching: residential areas, infrastructure, agriculture, the economy and, not least, human health are all sectors that may be affected by more frequent forest fires, according to the report. So how is Luxembourg preparing?
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Forest fires: A danger in Luxembourg, too
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