Forests play a crucial role in natural balance, sustaining ecosystem services, and holding great importance for human life. As the frequency, intensity, and timing of forest fires change, they have various ecological, economic, social, and health impacts. In the case of Turkey wildfire, Turkey has been recording official statistics on forest fires since 1937.
Approximately 57% of forested areas in Turkey, which is equivalent to a 12.49 million-hectare area, possess a vulnerable structure against forest fires. This area stretches from Hatay and extends from the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Marmara regions to Western Black Sea.
Since 1937, approximately 1,360 forest fires have occurred each year, resulting in an average affected area of 20,000 hectares. However, starting from the 1990s, with the use of technical equipment in combating forest fires, the annual average reached 2,200 fires. And, it affected an average area of 10,000 hectares.
According to the General Directorate of Forestry, in Turkey, 10% of fires are intentional, 47% are due to negligence and carelessness, 11% are natural/lightning-induced, and 32% are categorized as unknown causes. Based on these figures, human factors cause about 89% of forest fires.
Furthermore, in our country, 60-70% of fires are surface fires (ground fires), while the remaining portion consists of crown fires. However, crown fires affect a significant portion of the burned area.
Regarding the Manavgat fire, satellite imagery taken during and after the fire enabled an assessment that revealed the fire lasted for approximately 10 days and impacted an area of around 55,000 hectares. Furthermore, the fire consumed about 55% of the burned area within the first two days.
As a consequence of this fire, the atmosphere released an estimated 303 million tons of CO2 emissions. This emission quantity equals the annual emissions of a country like Denmark. Additionally, experts estimate the economic cost of this fire at 3.5 billion Turkish Liras (approximately 412 million US dollars). This estimation encompasses expenses associated with firefighting endeavors, loss of agricultural land, and damage to infrastructure and properties.
In conclusion, the frequency of encountering unusual weather conditions and increasing fires in the Mediterranean basin, which includes our country, is significantly rising due to climate change. Effectively managing large-scale fires is closely linked not only to firefighting efforts but also to taking preventive measures to prevent fires from occurring. Therefore, both the efforts of firefighting teams and proactive measures to reduce fire risks are of great importance.