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GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS)

Activity ID: 126


Wildfires are a global hazard that causes enormous environmental damages and economic losses and which continue to present a major risk in many countries. It is estimated that nearly 400 Million ha of natural areas are burnt every year causing large environmental and economic damages and contributing to the increase of carbon emissions worldwide.  Wildfires have seasonal and regional patterns, which are reflected in different fire regimes across the globe and several National and supranational organizations have established systems aiming at providing early warning for large fire events to minimize the effects of catastrophic fires. 

Earth observations (EOs) and information, derived both from space and surface networks, have demonstrated not only their maturity, but their critical role in supporting first responders and risk managers by providing effective tools to rapidly map natural hazards and assess impacts. There is an increasing amount of spatially explicit data and information on wildfires being collected at the national, regional and global levels. However, an international initiative to pull resources and information together does not exist.

GEO provides a unique platform for international cooperation. In the area of wildfires, the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) Initiative aims at bringing together existing information sources at regional and national level in order to have a comprehensive view and evaluation of fire regimes and fire effects at global level.

The task will build on the ongoing activities of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) Global Observation of Forest Cover- Global Observation of Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) Fire Implementation Team (GOFC Fire IT), and the associated Regional Networks, complementing existing, related activities that are on-going around the world, with respect to wildfire information gathering. Since the European Commission (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) is already part of the GOFC Fire IT, the collaboration with on-going initiatives of the team is ensured. GWIS will thus be an asset built by and for the GWIS partners, including the GOFC Fire IT members, the EC and the regional partner networks.

At the regional level, GWIS builds on the EC activities around the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which currently provides information for the pan-European territory, Middle East and North Africa, and its associated network of 43 countries in that region.

Activities for the period

GWIS includes the following activities:

  1. Establish and further develop a prototype Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) providing harmonized fire information (e.g. fire danger) – building on initial activities of the EC in the EFFIS and the GOFC-GOLD Fire Implementation Team (GOFC-GOLD Fire IT);
  2. Promote the networking of major national and regional fire information providers by organizing an annual workshop convening key international organizations and initiatives (e.g. GOFC-GOLD Fire IT) and national and regional providers, e.g. Australia, Canada, China, Central and South America and South Africa;
  3. Establish operational links and, if possible, arrangement with other wildfire communities dealing with wildfire aspects at global scale (e.g. burnt area assessment, emission estimation).
  4. Further develop the GWIS by integrating and harmonizing as much as possible regional data wildfire information sources;
  5. Develop, implement and promote the establishment of mechanisms for interoperability and communication among national, regional and global wildfire information systems following Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards and guidelines, and the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles;
  6. Coordinate and promote capacity building and training activities in close cooperation with the GOFC-GOLD Fire IT regional networks and the EFFIS network.

User engagement

User engagement is already implemented through the networks of the European Forest Fire Information System and will be further expanded to the GOFC-GOLF Fire Networks. However, up until now, the above networks are a set of disconnected networks which do not have a common information hub where wildfire information, expertise, good practices could be shared. The establishment of GWIS will thus bring all networks to a higher level of networking, information sharing and collaboration that does not exist at the moment.

Future plans

Transition to the operational phase is foreseen in the context of the Copernicus Program and supported by the activities of the GOFC-GOLD Fire IT.


GWIS is supported by the EC JRC activities on forest fire monitoring in the context of the extension of the EFFIS to the global scale. The contribution of the JRC includes the development and maintenance of a prototype GWIS. The JRC EFFIS/GWIS team consists of 10 scientific staff with expertise on remote sensing, statistical and spatial analysis, information systems, web development and interoperability. This team will be supported by other JRC colleagues with specific expertise on data harmonization, data infrastructures and interoperability, who work on the implementation of the EU INSPIRE Directive.

The participants in the GWIS Initiative will provide in-kind contribution through their participation in the meetings and teleconferences. The contributors are the owners of national and regional systems, who will contribute to the design and development of GWIS and the calibration and validation of the GWIS modules.  Contributors to GWIS will provide support for the editing of documents and reports during the life span of the Initiative.  

The EC JRC, in the context of its activities within the Copernicus program, foresees the provision of financial resources for the organization of an annual workshop. No other specific financial support is provided by any of the Institutions participating in the task.


  • Jesus San-Miguel-Ayanz (JRC/EC) <>


Members: Canada, China, EC, Japan, South Africa, USA.

Participating Organizations: ESA, GTOS.

Linkages across the Work Programme


Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)




Implementing Entity



Jesus San Miguel-Ayanz

European Commission