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GEO 2016 transitional Work Program


Global Wildfire Information System

Activity ID: 42


Wildfires 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 and global levels. However, the lack of an international initiative to pull resources and information together did not exist.

GEO provides a unique platform for international cooperation. In the area of wildfires, the Global Wildfire Information System 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 GTOS GOFC-GOLD Fire Implementation Team, the associated Regional Networks, complementing existing, related activities that are on going around the world, with respect to wildfire information gathering.
At the regional level, GWIS builds on the European Commission 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.

In countries that currently do not have a wildfire information system, GWIS will fill this gap and help countries engage in international collaboration. For countries and regions where wildfire information systems exist, GWIS will provide a complementary and independent source of harmonized information adding to the national/regional information sources. 

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 European Commission in the European Forest Fire Information System and the Global Observation of Forest Cover-Global Observation of Land Dynamics 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 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 Implementation Team regional networks and the EFFIS network.

Leads and contributors

Lead: Jesus San-Miguel-Ayanz, European Commission JRC
Contributors:   GTOS (GOFC-GOLD), Canada (CFS),, USA, China, Japan, South Africa (CSIR), ESA, NASA

2016 activities

M1 Workshop of GWIS partners – Q4 2016
M2 Consolidated prototype of the GWIS – Q4 2016


GWIS is supported by the European Commission Joint Research Centre activities on forest fire monitoring in the context of the extension of the European Forest Fire Information System to the global scale. The contribution of the EC Joint Research Centre includes the development and maintenance of a prototype Global Wildfire Information System

The participants in the GWIS initiative will provide in kind contribution through their participation in the meetings and teleconferences. Contributors to GWIS will provide support for the editing of documents and reports during the life span of the Initiative.   The list of participants and their contribution will be regularly updated along the duration of the project.

The European Commission Joint Research Centre, 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.

Additional activities for 2016

Establishment of contacts and synergies between the GOFC GOLD Fire Implementation Team regional networks and the GWIS.

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)

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GEO Secretariat
7 bis, avenue de la Paix
Case postale 2300
CH-1211 Geneva 2

phone: +41 22 730 8505
fax: +41 22 730 8520