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Competence Network Climate Change, Risk Management and Transformation in Forest Ecosystems

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Forest Research Institut Baden-Württemberg (FVA)
Department of forest economics

Wonnhaldestr. 4
D-79100 Freiburg

Tel:  +49 761 4018 231
Fax: +49 761 4018 333


Author(s): Susanne Kaulfuß
Editorial office: FVA, Germany
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Legal basis for forest fire prevention

Forest Fire Handbook
"Forest Crisis Management" Advisory Guide

The legal foundation for forest fire protection and fighting is based on federal and state legislation as well as on European Union regulation.

Rules have been established through various EU regulations, especially in the area of forest fire provision. The EU specifies forest fire risk areas into regions with high, medium and low forest fire risks (Forest Fire Danger Class: A/high, B/medium, C/low risk).

EU funding is available, depending on category, for

  • Forest fire prevention measures and
  • Establishing a forest fire information system

At the federal and state level differently regulated laws and regulations exist based on the forest fire danger of that state. The federal states are responsible for necessary regulation. Along with state forest and forestry laws, fire service laws and fire and catastrophe prevention laws also apply to forest fire prevention and fighting.

The state forest and forestry law regulations as well as associated ordinances deal with prevention measures e.g. smoking ban, open fires as well as entering a forest.

Die EU fördert Waldbrandinformationssysteme zur schnellen Erkennung von Waldbränden Waldbrandvorbeugende Maßnahmen wie Wundstreifen werden finanziell in Waldbrand gefährdeten Gebieten gefördert
Fig. 1: The EU funded forest fire information system for the early detection of forest fires. (Photo: FVA/Kaulfuß) Fig. 2: Forest fire prevention measures like fire breaks are financially supported in forest fire dangered areas. (Photo: N. Kessner)

Involvement of forest owners

Preventing forest fires is the duty of the forest owner. Forest authorities only exercise a monitor responsibility. Under certain conditions, preventative measures in private forests can be undertaken by the forest authorities. Similarly in the case of a forest fire, the forest owner is obliged to safeguard the extinguished fire so that a new fire can not ignite.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, non-state forest owners (e. g. private forests) with a forest holding greater than 30 ha contribute to the costs of forest fire prevention measures and aftercare depending on the size of their property. The state bears 50 % of the costs for forest holdings up to 75 ha, but none of the costs for those greater than 75 ha. However, other funding options related to forest fire prevention and forest conversion are available to forest owners (see article on Financial provision and forest fire risks).


  • Caspers, G. (2000): Waldbrandschutz. CD-ROM. aid.
    Landesforst Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (1999): Durchführungserlass zum Ge­mein­samen Waldbrandrunderlass des Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Umwelt und Ver­braucher­schutz und Innenministeriums. Lesefassung 15. Juni 2009.
    Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (1994): Verordnung zur Verhütung und Bekämpfung von Waldbränden im Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Waldbrandschutzverordnung).
    Müller, C.; et al. (2000): Waldbrandschutz - Manuskript der Bund-Länder-Arbeitsgruppe Waldbrandschutz. in Caspers, G. (2000): Waldbrandschutz. CD-ROM. aid.