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World Bank Europe and Central Asia Region

Accounting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Forest Fires in Bulgaria

Today around 40 to 50 percent of forests in Bulgaria are classified as high risk for wildfires. While forest fires have their place in nature and can serve an important function in maintaining the health of some ecosystems, there is evidence of a growing number of fires caused directly or indirectly by humans. Conversely, fire prevention and suppression seems correlated with the level of socioeconomic development (contrast efforts in Portugal, Spain and France vs. results in the Balkans). 

Accounting for the full costs of forest fires could help build the case for stepped up investment in this sector and perhaps open the door for carbon financing. However costs associated with increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are very difficult to estimate compared to economic losses in terms of property, timber, and even loss of life and livelihoods. The difficulty stems from a number of factors including the fact that much carbon remains in the form of dead trees; soil carbon content may change depending on the severity of fire; forest fires may weaken trees and increase the occurrence of pests and disease; forests may regenerate in different patterns depending on species, competing vegetation, grazing etc.

PROFOR was planning to supporting a study that would examine the possible causes of forest fires in Bulgaria and evaluate a set of preventive and suppressive measures, including climate change adaption measures, that can be taken to reduce the incidence of forests burnt annually; and  evaluate the different models that estimate GHG emissions associated with forest fires in Bulgaria and propose and test the most robust model/ methodology to estimate these emissions. However this activity was cancelled.

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Author : World Bank Europe and Central Asia Region
Last Updated : 02-24-2017