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Deadwood and Fire Risk in Europe : Knowledge synthesis for policy
Larjavaara Markku, Brotons Lluís, Corticeiro Sofia, Espelta Josep Maria, Gazzard Rob, Leverkus Alex, Maia Paula, Sanders Tanja, Svoboda Miroslav, Thomaes Arno, Vandekerkhove Kris, Lovric Natasa
Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC)
Publication metadata This policy brief is the result of a response to a policy request submitted by DG ENV to the EC Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity (KCBD) and coordinated by BioAgora. BioAgora ( is a collaborative European project funded by the Horizon Europe programme mandated to develop a fair and functional Science Service for Biodiversity, that will help the KCBD orchestrate processes and initiatives at the Science-Policy Interface at the European level. The request addressed the contribution of deadwood to the risk of forest fires. Deadwood is considered a biodiversity indicator in forest ecosystems. Understanding its link with fire risk is necessary to inform current policy discussions between the European Commission and Member States in both the Nature Restoration law and EU Forest policy. DG ENV thus requested a synthesis of knowledge to identify a) links between deadwood characteristics and fire risk in the different biogeographic regions of Europe, and b) forest management approaches for reconciling the biodiversity objectives of deadwood management with forest fire risk prevention. The experts gathered by BioAgora submitted the following report explaining that the volume of dead wood generated by natural disturbances is highly variable among European forest ecosystems and can represent a large portion of the fuel available to burn during a forest fire. However, pieces of deadwood burn slowly and therefore contribute only little to fire intensity. Fine fuels such as branches and dead needles, attached to deadwood can have a significant effect on fire intensity. Salvage logging after a large-scale natural disturbance does not normally reduce the amount of fine fuels and may therefore not reduce fire risk.