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FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENT INITIATIVE: Joint action to reduce forest fires

According to Global Economy data, about forty-three percent of the area of Bosnia and Herzegovina is covered by forests, ranking our country sixty-second in the world and tenth on the European continent. Unfortunately, due to such large expanses of forest, forest fires are frequent, favored by climate change, and an insufficiently good approach to fire prevention and protection.

Forest fires often have catastrophic consequences for nature, including the destruction of forests and plant and animal species, and pose a severe risk to the safety of people and their property. For this reason, raising awareness about this topic is crucial for solving the problem and simultaneously encourages responsible behavior of individuals, communities, and society as a whole.

Forestry and Environmental Action – FEA (Forestry and Environmental Action) is one of the most agile civil society organizations in forest protection in Southeast Europe. Their projects focus on the responsible management of forests and other natural resources through campaigns, consulting, education, and the creation of strategic documents in this field. One of their main activities in the upcoming period is implementing the project “Joint action to reduce the increased risk of forest fires for nature and people in the context of climate change in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” supported by SMART Balkans.

The Initiative for Forestry and Environment states that the project intervention aims to improve the management of forest fires in BiH, reduce the loss of forest cover, and preserve biodiversity. The project contributes to improving the situation regarding the observed problems and the fulfillment of priorities and goals in strategies and documents at different administrative levels, as well as strategies in the field of forestry.

Amina Trle Trbić, environmental protection expert at the Forestry and Environment Initiative, emphasizes the importance of education on prevention, fire management, and challenges that can be encountered in this field. In the project, they count on cooperation with the institutions responsible for forestry, the professional public, other civil society organizations, and especially with citizens.

“The plan is to sign a memorandum of cooperation with the competent institutions, and a special emphasis in the project will be placed on improving communication in the field of forest fire management so that we will establish communication channels, develop a communication strategy, create promotional materials and undertake the largest and most comprehensive a campaign to raise awareness about the importance and extent of risks and consequences associated with forest fires and to encourage civil activism in fire prevention”, the Initiative states.

The creation of the first interactive map of susceptibility to fires in Bosnia and Herzegovina is worth highlighting as a complete novelty that will be generated by the project implemented by FEA. This map will be available to everyone and will be a useful platform for finding information about the danger of certain areas from forest fires. Not only will citizens benefit from this map, but it will also have a great use value for institutions.

“Information and a strong awareness of the problem of forest fires is crucial for the authorities because it encourages them to better planning and coordination, continuous strengthening of capacities and cooperation, and timely reaction in case of fire outbreaks. Therefore, raising awareness at higher levels facilitates efforts to solve this problem and strengthens general security”, explains Trle.

In accordance with the project’s name, which emphasizes joint action, the initiative for forestry and the environment calls on citizens to be environmentally aware and to behave responsibly outdoors, to be informed about forest fire safety instructions, and to monitor and report suspicious activities. “In addition, we invite citizens to use the tools that we will create through our project so that we can all contribute to preserving our forests” the Initiative says.

You can find more information about the project Joint action to reduce the increased risk of forest fires for nature and people in the context of climate change in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the topic of forest fires in the official accounts of the project called “For forests without fire” on the Facebook and LinkedIn platforms as well as SMART Balkans.