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GEO-3: GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK  
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Forest damage

Forest fires in Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the eastern Mediterranean, Mexico and western United States have raised concern about wildfires, catalysed national policy responses and mobilized initiatives for fire prevention and suppression

Source: UNEP, Paulus Suwito, Topham Picturepoint

Large areas of forest around the world caught fire in 1997 and 1998, when intense El Niņo-related drought conditions prevailed. Another serious spate of fires occurred in 1999-2000. The forest fires of the past five years in Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the eastern Mediterranean, Mexico and western United States have raised public awareness and concern about wildfires, catalysed national policy responses and mobilized regional and international initiatives for fire prevention, early warning, detection and suppression. The links between fires and land use policies and practices are now better understood (FAO 2001a).

Extreme weather events are another threat. The storms that struck Europe in December 1999 caused massive damage to forests and to trees outside forests. The total damage in Europe represented six months of the region's normal harvest while, in some countries, the equivalent of several years' harvest was blown down. Changes in forest management, such as increased reliance on natural regeneration, have been proposed in many countries to reduce the potential risk of storm damage in the future (FAO 2001a)