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© Andreas Bolte
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Institute of

WO Forest Ecosystems


Expansion of ecological, silvicultural and technical knowledge of forest fires (ErWiN)


The project ErWiN works to provide on the expansion of ecological, silvicultural, and technical knowledge of forest fires for forest management and fire fighting.

Warmer, drier summers increase the risk of forest fires in Germany, followed by an increase of forest fires. Related to this increase of risk, there is a lack of knowledge.

Background and Objective

This project creates basics for the knowledge-based handling of forest fires in the fields of silviculture and fire fighting.

The development of small-scale, dynamic vulnerability maps is planned at the Thünen Institute, which take into account relevant forest structure parameters in addition to the fire weather indices. An expanded risk assessment shall include climate scenarios and silvicultural measures through scenario analyses.


Work package 1.1 - History of forest fires:

Data collection of past forest fires with information on the location, time of origin, if known, cause of fire, fire propagation dynamics and further information.

Work package 1.2 - structural and climatic conditions:

Creation of a complete, consistent, area-representative data set of daily values of fire weather indices (e.g. WBI, FWI) in climatic and current periods, including climate scenarios up to 2100 for Germany on a medium scale, which is automatically updated on a daily basis in addition to the scenarios and history.

Finally, forest fire-relevant forest structure data (tree species, structures, height, percentage of dead wood, phenology, soil moisture levels, height, moisture, fire barriers, network of paths, infrastructure, etc.) are obtained and derived.

Work package 1.3 - Vulnerability maps:

1) The amount of flammable material due to the weather and forest structure: Here the fire weather indices are combined with the forest structure data including the fuel types.

2) The influence of human activities: The potential initial spark by humans should be taken into account based on the proximity to infrastructure, forms of use, days of the week and times.

3) If a fire breaks out, the rate of fire spread and the effectiveness of firefighting determine a decisive role. The rate of propagation due to weather and forest structure is primarily analysed with process-based fire propagation models (KIT). The effectiveness of firefighting depends on the speed of the fire alarm. Other questions regarding firefighting are: How fast is the fire brigade on site? Can it reach the fire (paths & ammunition contamination, other dangers)? To what extent and with which technology can the firefighting be carried out?

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)
  • Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
    (national, öffentlich)


5.2020 - 9.2023

More Information

Project funding number: 2219WK54B4
Funding program: Waldklimafonds (Programmbestandteil des Sondervermögens Energie- und Klimafonds)
Project status: ongoing


  1. 0

    Gnilke A, Sanders TGM (2022) Distinguishing abrupt and gradual forest disturbances with MODIS-Based phenological anomaly series. Front Plant Sci 13:863116, DOI:10.3389/fpls.2022.863116

  2. 1

    Gnilke A, Liesegang J, Sanders TGM (2022) Potential forest fire prevention by management - An analysis of fire damage in pine forests. Eberswalde: Thünen Institute of Forest Ecosystems, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2022/24a, DOI:10.3220/PB1661178158000

  3. 2

    Gnilke A, Liesegang J, Sanders TGM (2022) Waldbrandprävention durch waldbauliche Maßnahmen - Eine Analyse von Waldbrandschäden in Kiefernwäldern. Eberswalde: Thünen-Institut für Waldökosysteme, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2022/24, DOI:10.3220/PB1658237571000

  4. 3

    Gnilke A, Sanders TGM (2021) Forest fire history in Germany (2001-2020). Eberswalde: Thünen Institute of Forest Ecosystems, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2021/32a, DOI:10.3220/PB1636643380000

  5. 4

    Gnilke A, Sanders TGM (2021) Waldbrandhistorie in Deutschland (2001-2020). Eberswalde: Thünen-Institut für Waldökosysteme, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2021/32, DOI:10.3220/PB1636642797000

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