It can take up to 50 years for the burned forests in North Macedonia to recover


It would take two to five decades for the destroyed forest areas and eco-systems in the wildfires to recover, said the authorities.

Still, at the moment, the institutions have neither precise data about the areas of forests that were was burned down nor the condition of the areas that were affected by the summer fires.

The director of the PE National Forests Juliana Nikolova said that the damages will be determined additionally but a conclusion can be made even now: It will take a very long time for the areas to recover!

“The evaluations of the Faculty of Forestry show that it would take 20 to 50 years for the burned areas to recover. I’m considering that it is more realistic to expect that it would take five decades rather than two, in order to reach the phase that the forest was in before it was burned down. This is an awfully long period which makes the wildfires catastrophic. In the next period there will be an evaluation of the damages depending on the types and the purpose of the trees that were burned down,” said Nikolova.

Calls for improvement of the possibilities for prevention and quick reaction

The damage is irreparable as existing eco-systems were destroyed that certainly cannot be recovered quickly, reacted the environmentalists Eco-Consciousness. They are pleading to be investigated whether the forests are set on fire purposely but also for the possibilities for a quick reaction and prevention to be improved.

“In the period when we are fighting with climate change and drought it is the ecosystemic services that the old forests are offering are becoming most important. Whether the forest was set on fire due to carelessness or on purpose we can never know that. It is left to the institutions to investigate and sanction. But, the whole situation showed that we are not ready to react quickly and to deal with forest fires,” said Eco Consciousness.

Director Nikolova said there are rumors among the general public that a major percentage of the wildfires during this period of the year was set on purpose haven’t been proven. Still, she is confirming that the burned trees can be used afterward and are used as pellets or are given to the local population to be used as firewood.

“To burn down forests with intent is a monstrous and acceptable act for me. If a perpetrator who has set a forest on fire is caught in the act, the services are obliged to hand over the perpetrator to authorities that will determine the facts and will act in accordance with legal procedures,” stressed Nikolova.

The National Forests informed that from the start of this year, until June, according to the data provided by the Electronic system MKFFIS, through the statistical data that is submitted by the branches and the electronic monthly reports from the forest service, there were 55 wildfires where 761 hectares of the forest was destroyed and over 5000 cubic meters of wood was burned down. The damage is evaluated to over 450,000 EUR. Still, the biggest damages caused by summer wildfires are yet to be assessed.

The environmentalists are alerting for illogicalities at the public enterprise and the national parks

The environmentalists are also alerting to other flaws especially related to firewood woodcutting. Eco Consciousness state that this business is like a golden duck in the domestic grey economy especially if it is taken into account that the sale of firewood is evaluated to closely 140 million EUR annually out of which half arrive from illegal logging. Out of 2,1 million cubic meters of firewood that is annually cut and used for the population’s needs, more than half wasn’t cut legally. They are demanding an urgent and essential reform at National Forests including strengthening the inspections and the field monitoring. According to them, it is problematic that the national parks which have to be the most protected areas, are left alone and most of the assets have to be secured through woodcutting, a situation that has to be changed urgently.

“For the first time after 60 years, a new national park Shar Mountain was declared which represents a great opportunity to see that the models with which the parks themselves are securing the funds from woodcutting is inappropriate and is an exception to examples throughout the world. Over 80% of the National Park Mavrovo’s income comes from commercial woodcutting in the park’s forests. It can be compared to a hospital’s director who is selling his patients’ organs in order to secure funds for the hospital,” said Eco Consciousness.

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