The Italian Almanac
Italian News - September 5
The area of Italian woodland that went up in smoke this summer was sharply up on last year's figure. Although many regions now have fire-prevention programmes in place, the head of Italy's Fire-Fighting Association, Riccardo Consales, said more than 35,000 hectares had been lost, an 81% % increase on last year.
Consales blamed Italy's heat wave and unhelpful winds but stressed that most fires were still due to arson. According to environmental association Legambiente, only 1.1% of forest fires in Italy are triggered by natural causes, although weather conditions usually aggravate the situation.
The association claims around 35% are the result of human carelessness, while 59.8% are started deliberately. The remaining 4% are due to "other factors," Legambiente said. It suggests that arson attacks are usually caused by farmers seeking to clear space for agricultural purposes or by construction speculators hoping to win permits to build on protected land.
The most-damaged areas were Sardinia with 10,500 hectares lost, followed by Calabria with 4,600 and Sicily with 4,500.