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Evolving Risk of Wildfires in Europe: The changing nature of wildfire risk calls for a shift in policy focus from suppression to prevention

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Abstract

Most of the damage from wildfires is due to extreme events that represent less than 2 per cent of the total number of fires. These events, for which neither ecosystems nor communities are adapted, can have significant socioeconomic and ecological consequences. This is why it is now time to develop appropriate risk reduction strategies and minimize the impacts of large-scale fires. This report demonstrates how climate change, human behaviours and other underlying factors are creating the conditions for more frequent, intense and devastating fires in Europe – now and over the next century. The report also provides authorities with concrete recommendations and examples of good practice. Along with further efforts to combat climate change, this new context requires adapted policies to shift the focus from suppression to prevention, as called by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, as well as the integration of science into governance, the further use of risk knowledge, and greater awareness among populations of the need for a change in behaviour.