Last Updated: 04 November 2013
Fires are major threat for all protected areas that cause irreversible damages to protected areas or their effects last for decades or even centuries. In many protected areas the minimal management practices can lead to the accumulation of excessive fire fuels that can potentially lead to very catastrophic fires. An example of such a fire in a protected area is the Yellowstone Park fires of the United States.
Currently fires in many of the countries of the Black Sea Region do not seem to be a major threat. This is changing and the importance of fires and will be more important in the future. The main reason is climate change that is leading to substantially higher temperatures especially during the summer (the xerothermic period). This is the period when most fires occur and the increase in the temperatures of the region has significantly increased the potential of forest fires (especially large scale forest fires). Examples of large catastrophic fires, in areas that they do not frequent occur, are the forest fires that occurred in 2010 in Russia outside of Moscow. This is a region where forest fires are typically not a major concern but the changing climatic conditions led to these serious and catastrophic fires. One of the major problems was that the region was not prepared for such a fire. The Black Sea region is relatively near to this region that had such severe fires.
In general the natural forested areas of the Black Sea region are limited. This makes it a priority to protect them. The region has had anthropogenic activities for centuries that have heavily impacted the forested areas of the region. Extensive fires would substantially decrease the already limited forested areas of the regions. When trying to solve environmental challenges close attention needs to be paid at the technical and political instruments available to the partners to face the specific problem. Because forest fires are not a major concern in most of these countries they are not prepared for this potential danger. Most countries have not developed extensive management plans to face fires and have limited equipment, primarily land vehicles with no air support (no fire fighting air vehicles).
Photograph Maxim Svolynskiy
To best face any potential problem the keys are the early recognition of a potential problem and to be proactive. Measures needs to be considered and taken before e.g. the major fires occur. In this project this will be accomplished through innovation and exchange of best management practices in the fields of scientific, technical and administrative competencies and capacities for environmental protection. The limited resources that all countries have for environmental issues make it a necessity to utilize innovative ways to face fire suppression. With innovative mechanisms management becomes more cost-effective and will allow the sustainable development of natural protected areas in the Black Sea region.
The creation of the neighbourhood network will strengthen and expand cooperation between existing institutions. This will allow the communication among authorities managing natural protected areas and authorities responsible for fire protection in order to exchange expertise, best management practices and innovation in technical and scientific methodologies. This will also provide support for the monitoring, protection and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. The purpose of the network is to be long lasting and to provide visible assistance. This will be done by trying to establish new collaborations but also by collaborating with existing environmental initiatives. The network will be the key for this particular issue because of the unbalance fires problems in the regions. In contrast to the other countries of the region, Greece faces fires every year. From this expertise the other partners could significantly benefit.
In addition in this project because of the joint strategies, methodologies and action plans will be developed to ensure the protection and sustainable management in the natural forested protected areas of the Black Sea. This will also lead to the creation of databases for the some natural protected areas of the Black Sea Basin. Finally based on the result of the project through workshops the citizens living in protected natural areas will be trained and their awareness rising while from conferences the scientific community of the region will be educated.