The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission (EC) set up in 1998 a research group to work specifically on the development and implementation of advanced methods for the evaluation of forest fire danger and mapping of burnt areas at the European scale. Also in 1998, a first meeting of the "Forest Fire Experts Group" of the Member States took place. This group was established by DG ENV and JRC to advice on the development of the foreseen methods for fire assessment.
These activities led to the development of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) which became operational in 2000.
EFFIS has been continuously expanding, sustained by the research work done at the JRC and supported by other European Commission services (DG ENV, DG ECHO, DG GROW) and the European Countries. Since the year 2015, EFFIS is part of the EU Copernicus Program, under the Emergency Management Service (EMS).
EFFIS was created through cooperative effort of the countries and the EC Services, and is open to all European countries. Further, an agreement with FAO Silva-Mediterranea was reached to extend the system to all non-EU Mediterranean countries. Along the time the original modules of fire danger forecast and damage assessment have been enhanced, and additional modules have been developed.
Here is a summary of key technical facts on EFFIS during last years.
- In 2003 the rapid damage assessment was introduced to provide quasi-real time maps of burned areas in southern Europe.
- In 2004 the EU fire database was established and since then the number of participating countries has been continuously increasing.
- In 2005 the web map viewer has been thoroughly renewed, introducing new functionalities and the query tools.
- An interface called "current situation" was set-up in 2007 to complement the standard mapping interface during the fire season with additional real-time information such as hot spots maps or news from the internet press. Also in 2007 a unified fire danger assessment method was adopted in EFFIS and fire danger forecasts were extended to 6 days and later on to 10 days, in 2014.
- In 2008 new products providing maps of fire danger anomalies and absolute ranking based on the fire danger index adopted have been introduced.