Extreme weather events such as long-lasting droughts create the condition for devastating fires. Post-fire rainstorms result in secondary disasters such as erosion, landslides, and siltation of rivers. Moreover, insect outbreaks (i.e. bark beetles) and plant diseases are common occurrences after LFs. Climate change, land-use change, and the rural exodus are increasing the ecosystem’s vulnerability to landscape fires in the Western Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, and represents one of the most affected regions in Europe by landscape fires (LFs).
To mitigate the negative impacts of LFs in the WB, it is necessary to have inclusive, cross-boundary cooperation and knowledge exchange to strengthen the capacities for landscape fire management (LFM) in the region. All of these aspects are incorporated in the Landscape fire management in the Western Balkans Programme. The Landscape Fire Management in the Western Balkans (LFMWB) is a project financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC and coordinated by Farmahem from Skopje, North Macedonia with backstopping support from Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation from Switzerland. The first phase is designed to be implemented in the period from 01.02.2022 until 31.08.2025. The overall budget for this phase is CHF 3.745.680.
The overall goal of this LFMWB is to increase resilience of Western Balkan forests and landscapes against fires benefit the people who depend on these landscapes for their livelihoods and socioeconomic development using a participatory approach that includes the local population in the processes, promotes gender equality, and further strengthens public awareness of the importance of safeguarding natural resources. This goal is aligned with the SDC’s Framework strategic components: Climate-resilient development and Sustainable management of natural resources. The Programme outcomes (1) A lasting regional network is established and contributes to cross-boundary knowledge exchange and cooperation in landscape fire management (LFM); (2) Better Capacities: Strengthened capacities on broader LFM approaches allow for an effective cross-sectoral collaboration at multiple levels; (3) Better policies: Revised policies and strategies on LFM are in place to support sustainable landscape management at local, national and regional levels; initiate inter-sectoral collaboration, improved working approaches, involvement of the community and key stakeholders in the development processes. The strategic partners are supported in taking the driving seat to ensure the sustainability of the Programme interventions on a national, regional, and international level.
The LFMWB Programme will contribute to establish strong and fully operational national and regional networks for LFM launching multi-stakeholder policy dialogues, foster better cooperation and strengthen the capacities in the WB region. Furthermore, the LFMWB Programme will contribute to encourage the integration of LFM as an essential part of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.