European Wildfire Report

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    Guide Author

    James Longley

    Managing Director

    min read
    Last Updated April 17, 2023

    Recent figures suggest that the energy sector is responsible for around two-thirds of all harmful greenhouse gas emissions. As experts in comparing business energy suppliers, we are aware of the impact that the human race, in particularly those working in the energy sector, are having on the environment, and how important it is to find greener alternatives.

    The effects of global warming are taking their toll on the climate, with annual temperatures hitting record heights year after year. A combination of hot weather and drought has led to forest fires across Europe which have destroyed acres upon acres of grassland despite the efforts of many.

    To understand more about the current state of wildfires, we have gathered information revealing which European countries have seen the largest increase in burned land, the years that have seen the most destruction from wildfires in the UK, and the areas most at risk of severe fires.

    European Wildfire Report

    With a 15,750% increase in wildfire loss, the Czech Republic has seen the biggest change of all European countries

    To kick off this report we have looked at data regarding the burning of land as a result of wildfires over the years. Below is a list of the European countries that have suffered the biggest loss in land from wildfires between 2006-2022.

    European Wildfire Report

    1. Czech Republic – 15,750% increase in burned land from wildfires

    Across 2022, the Czech Republic saw 15,750% more wildfires than average which places the country in the top spot of this list. Devastatingly, the Czech Republic were subject to the largest fire in its history in 2022, which resulted in hundreds of firefighters being deployed to the scene. Despite their efforts, over 1,000 hectares of land were burned in and around the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Although the cause of this forest fire is unclear, it has been speculated that the hot weather was a contributing factor which has been heightened in recent years by the effects of climate change.

    2. Austria – 5,746% increase in burned land from wildfires

    From an average of 17.38 hectares of burned land between 2006-2021, Austria has seen a 5,746% increase in wildfire loss over the last year – the second highest of all the European countries in this list. In a similar fashion to Czechia, the recent surge in wildfires across this country has been as a result of global warming.

    3. Switzerland – 4,976% increase in burned land from wildfires

    Switzerland completes this top three list of the European countries that have seen the biggest increase in burned land as a result of wildfires. A vast majority of the forest fires in this country are caused by human activity, often in the form of arson. This carelessness has led to a 4,976% increase in burned land over the last year when compared to the 2006-2021 average.

    South Downs National Park has a fire severity risk of 4.5 /5 - higher than any other national park

    With most companies requiring electricity for business, we must be mindful of how much our activity is impacting the environment. Recent figures have shown that 2022 was the UK’s hottest year on record, with temperatures on July 19th reaching 40.3°C. The extreme temperature changes have posed a threat to ecosystems all across the UK, but which of our National Parks are most at risk?

    National Parks

    1. South Downs – Fire Risk Rating of 4.5 /5

    With a fire risk rating of 4.5 /5, South Downs is the National Park at risk of the most severe blazes if a wildfire should occur. Located in South East England, this National Park is made up of vast countryside and is famed for its river valleys and grassland. When taking into account the low rainfall and winds in the area during peak summertime, South Downs is vulnerable to extreme fires – this makes it all the more important to be mindful of our ecosystems and protect them at all costs.

    2. Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, The Broads, Yorkshire Dales, New Forest – Fire Risk rating of 4 /5

    The second position in this ranking is shared between six different National Parks that all have a fire severity score of 4 /5. With the exception of The Broads and New Forest National Parks, all of the entries in this position are located in the North of England which indicates that the weather conditions which increase fire severity, namely hot and dry weather, are similar in these areas.

    Of the entries in this list, Northumberland is the least visited of all the National Parks which decreases the likelihood of a wildfire occurring due to human activity. Having said this, in the unfortunate instance that a wildfire should occur, some areas of the Northumberland National Park are at an exceptional fire severity risk.

    Despite being one of the most recently designated National Parks, New Forest is full of history which needs to be preserved. As well as this, it is the only entry in this second spot with the same level of fire severity risk across its land, meaning that the entire National Park has a very high chance of being severe if a wildfire were to break out.

    2019 has seen the most damage from wildfires in the UK to date - totalling 28,754 hectares of burned area

    The years most affected by wildires

    With the effects of global warming becoming more apparent in recent years, we were interested to find out how much the surrounding ecosystems have been impacted. Looking at data between 2011-2022, the list below shows the years that have been affected the most by wildfires.

    1. 2019 – 28,754 hectares of area burned due to wildfires

    In terms of the total area burned by wildfires, 2019 saw the most destruction in the UK – totalling 28,754 hectares. The combination of drought and high temperatures throughout the year provided the perfect condition for wildfires. Unusually, a hot spell of weather in February 2019 resulted in many wildfires, and unfortunately, this set a precedent for the rest of the year.

    2. 2022 – 20,362 hectares of area burned due to wildfires

    Despite being the hottest year on record, 2022 saw less area burned by wildfires than in 2019. Even though 2022 does not feature at the top of this ranking, there is still a lot of progress to be made in terms of protecting the countryside. As well as tackling climate change, we are being urged to be mindful of our surroundings and any potential fire hazards.

    3. 2018 – 17,689 hectares of area burned due to wildfires

    With a total of 17,689 hectares of area burned in 2018, this year saw the third-highest destruction of land from wildfires. The majority of wildfires in the year occurred during the summer months of June and July. As a result of extreme drought across the north of England, there was even damage to buildings in the area, with some homes having to be evacuated.

    Methodology

    We used Statista to find the number of hectares burned by wildfires in the United Kingdom for every year between 2011-2022.

    We used Statista to find the number of hectares that have been burned by forest and wildfires as of 2022 for 32 European countries (excluding Ukraine).

    Using Met Office data and filtering by the hottest day of 2022 (19/07/2022), we found the fire risk rating (level 1= low fire severity, level 5 = exceptional fire severity) for each National Park across England and Wales. To determine the rating, we looked at the range of fire severity index levels in each National Park and took an average score.

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