United Nations Development Programme in Syria

Sub-regional Facility for Cooperation in Disaster
Reduction Among the Arab States

Experts Consultation Meeting on Wildfire Early Warning and Detection Systems

Le Meriden, Lattakia - Syria

15 - 17 July 2007


Out of the total land area of Syria which is estimated at 18,517,900 ha, agricultural land is just over 6,000,000 ha, rangeland represents about 45%, and about 461,000 ha representing around 2.5% are considered as forests land. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reforms (MAAR), Forestry Directorate’s (FD) statistics, around 264,000 ha of the total forest area is human-made.


In-spite of their limited area, the forest resources in Syria are vital to land and water resources sustainable management, environmental balance and therefore to the socio-economic development of the country.


Generally speaking, with its special topographic, climatic and socio-economic conditions, Syria is ecologically sensitive and could be considered as environmentally fragile. For many reasons, including human and natural causes, over the last 15 years, the number of incidents of wildfires (Forest and Olive plantations fires) has continued to increase. The Forestry Directorate records showed that forest fires increased from 57 incidents in 1990 to over 300 in 2006. The increasing number of fire incidents and magnitude of wildfires in the coastal region is disturbing the ecosystem, causing serious local and economic losses and putts human and natural resources at risk. Such situation created an environment within which the sustainable management of land resources and consequently the sustained livelihood of rural population in the Coastal region of Syria are negatively affected by wildfires and further threatened.


Although the damage in many of the incidents was curtailed by the fire force, the continuously increasing number of incidents is expected to outweigh the risk management capacity and capability of government and its efforts including establishment and equipping of Fire Protection, construction of watch tower network, and increase in fire crews.


The MAAR is currently involved in different efforts to address situation. Efforts in this respect included the construction of a number of Forest Fire Protection Centers, Fire watch Towers, supply of equipment and tools, assignment of forest patrol and fire crews. With the assistance of an FAO/Italy supported Project on Integrated Forest Fires Management, the Government is working on capacity building, community involvement, and institutional issues. The Project conduct a number of studies and reviewed current situation of forest fires in the country, initiated community mobilization and involvement, prepared the First National IFFM Strategy, first IFFM five-year Plan (National Plan 2006 – 2010), initiated the process for training of forestry personnel and assisted the organization of two national awareness campaigns.


On the other hand the issues of early detection and early warning which were identified by the IFFM Project and the Government as week areas in the overall risk management and disaster reduction strategy. Late detection during dry, hot, and windy condition within the forest areas and the vegetation types that dominate coastal governorates usually lead to serious situations and disasters.


Accordingly, the Government identified the serious need for the establishment of early detection and early warning systems. The MAAR considers this aspect as an urgent need that requires special development efforts.


Since there may be different technical options, strategies, approaches and possibilities for both systems (Early Warning and Early Detection), the MAAR suggested further investigation on this subject, especially with regards to alternatives and options. To do so, the MAAR suggested the organization of “Expert’s Consultative Meeting on Wildfire Early Warning and Detection System” in Syria.


Objective of the meeting:

The “Expert’s Consultative Meeting on Wildfire Early Warning and Detection System” aims at studying the Syrian wildfire conditions, scrutinizing current technical and methodological approaches, technologies and accordingly assess possibilities and suggest options and alternatives appropriate for the Syrian conditions. The assistance will also help creating better understanding of risk management and disaster reduction issues, strategies and tools.  


The meeting will therefore:

  • Discuss different alternative and possibilities, including suggested options, approaches, and technological packages, based on the national context.  
  • Suggest an action plan for further actions and is to recommend opportunities for international and regional support.



Wildfire risk management and disaster mitigation international, regional and national specialists and experts and specially those working in the field of early warning and fire detection systems development and implementation are expected to attend the meeting. Around 20 – 25 experts representing UN agencies, international private firms, regional government agencies and NGOs and Syrian Government.




The meeting will take place at Le Meridien Hotel, Lattakia Governorate.


Organizers and partners:

The meeting is organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reforms in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Syria.

Meeting Agenda Last Updated  09/07/07 final
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