Sicily Wildfires: 51,000 hectares burned in 2023, more than double the total of all other Italian regions combined

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The fire that destroyed Monte Inici a few days ago, overlooking Castellammare del Golfo, in the province of Trapani, reducing to ashes over 350 hectares of forest and Mediterranean scrub and burning 30 percent of the trees, is just the latest in a long series that saw in 2023 its annus horribilis. In Sicily, last summer, flames devoured about 51 thousand hectares, mostly agricultural land and forests, dealing a severe blow to the economy of the Island, with damages estimated by civil protection in tens of millions.

A surface more than double that of all the other Italian regions put together. The latest Report on forest fires by Ispra, the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, speaks to this. The Island is “the region with the largest area covered by fires, both as total area and as area exclusively covered by forests.”

The province suffering the most is Palermo “which alone represents about a third of the national total of forest areas covered by fire (3,174 hectares), followed by Messina (1,066 hectares) and Siracusa (995 hectares),” although fires have not spared the rest of the Sicilian territory. Speaking of Palermo, the dioxin alarm triggered after the fire that struck the Bellolampo landfill is still remembered with concern: ARPA had detected the presence of the substance in Contrada Inserra, whose values exceeded the ordinary by ten times.

The problem of fires in Sicily is not new. According to a report by the Regional Anti-Mafia Commission, in 2021, there were more than eight thousand fires, an average of 135 per day. And in the following years, things did not improve. Many fires are caused by climate change, but there are also other factors such as drought, excessive heat waves, lightning, and the irresponsibility of some human behaviors, for example, cigarette butts abandoned in nature. The case of deliberate fires is different. According to civil protection, in Italy, arson is the predominant cause. Every year in our country, thousands of crimes of this kind occur, causing incalculable damage in terms of loss of biodiversity, economic value, and loss of human lives.

Incendi in Sicilia: nel 2023 in fumo 51 mila ettari, più del doppio di tutte le altre regioni italiane messe insieme

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