Brief communication Decreasing fires in a Mediterranean region (1970–2010, NE Spain)
Abstract. We analyse the recent evolution of fires in Catalonia (north-eastern Iberian Peninsula), a typical Mediterranean region. We examine a homogeneous series of forest fires in the period 1970–2010. During this period, more than 9000 fire events greater than 0.5 ha were recorded, and the total burned area was more than 400 kha. Our analysis shows that both the burned area and number of fire series display a decreasing trend. Superposed onto this general decrease, strong oscillations on shorter time scales are evident. After the large fires of 1986 and 1994, the increased effort in fire prevention and suppression could explain part of the decreasing trend. Although it is often stated that fires have increased in Mediterranean regions, the higher efficiency in fire detection could have led to spurious trends and misleading conclusions.