Fire is the main cause of forest destruction in the countries of the Mediterranean Basin, says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Amazingly, about 50,000 fires sweep through 700,000 to one million hectares of Mediterranean forests, other wooded land and other land each year.
As well as causing enormous economic damage, the fires result in massive ecological loss and human deaths.
Forest fires in the Mediterranean Basin are significantly determined by predominant climatic conditions.
Prolonged summers (extending from June to October and sometimes even longer), with virtually no rain and average daytime temperatures well in excess of 30C, reduce the moisture content of forest litter to below 5%.
Under these conditions, even a small addition of heat (lightning, a spark, a match, a discarded cigarette butt) can be enough to start a fierce fire.