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Project details

ARCADIA SIT is a partner in a European consortium for the supply of services in the field of GIS and remote sensing, under the framework contract Desis. The project is developed by CCR – IES – Institute for Environment and Sustainability / LMNH Land Management and Natural Hazards Unit.

L’European Forest Fire Information System” (EFFIS) supports all services of the European Union whose main task forest protection against fires, with mapping land fires obtained by interpretation of satellite images. Provides reliable updated information about the fires in all the EU institutions responsible, including the European Parliament. The geographical area covered is Europe and Mediterranean countries (North Africa, Middle East, Turkey).

The main activities are:

  • software development for the creation of tools to automate tasks using  ArcGis, IDL, ERDAS, Python.
  • Automatic processing of MODIS satellite imagery land / water (supervised unsupervised classifications, vegetation indices, severity indices, principal component analysis, analysis of change detection).
  • Photo-interpretation of satellite images to video MODIS land / water and ancillary data.
  • Automatic processing and spatial analysis of vector and raster data (databases burned areas and their evolution, administrative data, Natura 2000 database, database related to thermal anomalies detected by MODIS satellite ground / aqua, indices, derived from meteorological data, to prediction of the risk of fire).
  • Daily updates of web site dedicated production of daily, weekly, annual and ad hoc reports regarding statistics on burned areas, the estimate of the damage, potential risk areas.

 Before proceeding to the analysis of data from different sources, we make a series of tests on the input data using specific Python script for their validation, which allow us to check the quality and consistency of the data.

Before being accepted into the database, the submitted data pass through a validation phase. The checks include the following:

Time of fire

  • Is the date valid?
  • Does the date given in the file match the year given in the filename?
  • Does the date/time of intervention/extinction occur after the initial date/time of alert?
  • Is the duration of the fire reasonable given its size?

Location of fire

  • Do the place names exist and are they correctly spelt?
  • Are the commune name/code/NUTS codes consistent with each other?
  • Is the correct (up to date) code used?
  • If information is missing, is it possible to obtain it from cross-referring other data?
  • If North/East values are given, are they plausible?

Size of fire

  • Are the values plausible (e.g. correct units)?
  • Have the categories (Forest, Non-forest, etc.) been assigned correctly?

Cause of fire

  • Is the mapping between the country cause code and EU code consistent/correct?

Descriptive information check is provided so that they have the required fields populated with values ​​corresponding to tables domain. Then consistency check of geographical information and correspondence with that description is provided. Specific scripts were prepared for the production of a database of statistics, as well as a series of historical data of burned areas, all this feature are included in the bulletin:

  • Number of forest fires in five Southern Member States (1980-2011)
  • Burnt area (hectares) in five Southern Member States (1980 – 2011)
  • Number of forest fires in other European countries (1990-2011)
  • Burnt area (hectares) in other European countries (1990 – 2011)

On the basis of information collected in the different countries the system organizes, a database of areas traversed by fire, and a series of related information of considerable size.

The European Fire Database is an important component of EFFIS containing forest fire information compiled by EU Member States and the other countries members of the EFFIS network.

The first steps to create a forest fire database were taken under the Regulation EEC No 2158/92 (now expired), which set up an action framework focusing mainly on measures for the prevention of forest fires. Under the regulation, a first forest fire information system, referred to as the Common Core Database, was established in order to collect information on forest fires, their causes and to improve the understanding of forest fires and their prevention.

Detailed rules for the application of this forest fire information system were given in the subsequent Regulation EEC No 804/94 which made the systematic collection of a minimum set of data on each fire event a matter of routine for the Member States participating in the system. The Common Core Database covered six Member States of the Union: Germany, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Regulation 2158/92 was renewed for five years in 1997 and expired on 31 December 2002.

The Forest Focus Regulation (EC) No 2152/2003 was built on the achievements of the two previous Council Regulations on the protection of Communities forests against atmospheric pollution and forest fires. According to the implementing rules of the Regulation, monitoring of forest fires in Europe continued to be recorded in order to collect comparable information on forest fires at Community level.

The forest fire data provided each year by individual EU Member States through the above-mentioned EU regulations, and additional data coming from other European countries have been checked, stored and managed by JRC within EFFIS. The database is now known as the European Fire Database.

The database contains four types of information: about the time, location, size and cause of the fire.

Fires map information database, are managed with ArcGIS Desktop.
GIS software is used for the verification of burned areas, their update and spatial analysis, also statistics production and representation of the results are provided.
Using the ArcGIS Desktop tools we defined a standard layout for the maps and the related symbols feature organized in ArcGIS project file (.mxd):

  • The dynamic transformation of geographic reference systems;
  • The dynamic theming related to the attributes to produce thematic maps for different information;
  • Dynamic Representation for different scales;
  • Classification of remotely sensed imagery to emphasize the areas hit by fire.

 Many of the procedures for the production of statistics are made using ArcGIS Model Builder that allows to repeatedly produce data analysis for each EU country examined, ensuring uniqueness of analysis.
Model Builder is effective for the possibility of establishing schematic procedures which link geo-processing tools within a procedural flow of spatial analysis of the information, producing new layers or classify existing ones. Typically combination of geo-processing tools is set, according to a analysis scheme defined by user that simultaneously provide data analysis and classification of certain parameters: type of vegetation, event time, surface concerned, etc.

 The JRC’s FORESTMOD activities contribute to the current effort of GIS and EO based models integration for an improved European-wide reporting and information sharing on pattern, fragmentation and connectivity related issues.  In Europe, the continued expansion of grey (artificial) infrastructure (urban and transport) and of intensive agriculture are increasingly eroding our natural fabric and natural capital (e.g. green infrastructure). These expansions are considered the biggest threat to biodiversity. Many of Europe’s natural/semi-natural habitats are highly fragmented and at risk of further fragmentation, a process that may be exacerbated in the context of climate change. In parallel to this anthropization process, a naturalization process is also taking place which follows the abandonment of farming and gives rise to natural vegetation by means of secondary succession. All land use/cover changes lead to changes in landscape pattern. Forest disturbances are foreseen to increase (forest fires, invasive pests) and competing socio-economic demands for forest goods and services can result in multiple drivers of forest change. Forests and biodiversity are strongly interlinked. On the one hand, biodiversity depends to a large extent on the integrity, health and vitality of forested areas. On the other hand, a decrease in forest biodiversity will lead to losses in forest productivity and sustainability. Therefore, sustainable forest management is oriented to support the provision of forest goods and services, and to enhance biodiversity levels. The number of goods and services provided by forest is large; a non-exhaustive list is:

  • Wood and non-wood products: e.g. biomass based energy
  • Climate regulation: e.g. C-sequestration
  • Pollution control
  • Soil protection and formation: e.g. erosion control
  • Nutrients cycling
  • Biodiversity protection
  • Water regulation and supply
  • Recreation
  • Disturbance regulation

Current activities on the analysis of forest ecosystem services include:

  • Biophysical mapping and assessment of forest ecosystem services – baseline stock and fluxes;
  • Changes in the provision of forest ecosystem services resulting from forest dynamics, policy and management options, climatic changes and forest disturbances;
  • Economic valuation of forest ecosystem services: current status and future (policy) scenarios;
  • Environmental and economic accounting.

Forest modeling:

Implementation of the Carbon Budget Model (CBM-CFS) to estimate the forest carbon dynamics and biomass availability in EU countries  following the IPCC guidance, and support to the development of the European Forest Dynamics Model (EFDM).

Link the CBM model to other JRC-based models (i.e. LUMP, POLES) with the view of developing an integrated modeling framework capable of projecting CO2 emissions from LULUCF in Europe under different policy scenarios.

 Project allows the users to retrieve general information such as maps of the number of fires, burnt area and average fire size for a selected year and for the countries for which data are available The data can be displayed at country, NUTS1, NUTS2 or NUTS3 level and may be filtered to exclude fires below a certain size, while an interactive graphical facility allows the user to display the same fire statistics over time.

 In this project various quality checks are performed on the input data quality and on the perimeter of the burned areas produced. Using scripts for the verification of the geometry and of the consistency of the information. The verification concerns the geometric consistency (spike, undershoot, overshoot), topological (overlap) and the population of the attribute tables. Before loading in the database datasets on forest fires and matching of these with the areas taken from images are verified.


Joint Research Centre ISPRA - EU COMMISSION


  • GIS
  • Forestry
  • Statistic
  • Quality Control Procedure

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