The Cost of European Wildfires 2023 Report

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As the climate emergency continues to develop, Europe is left devastated by wildfires that have burnt through thousands of hectares of green space as the continent has yet again battled record heat waves throughout 2023. 

The number of wildfires that have ravaged through Europe’s landscapes this year are nothing short of catastrophic, with Greece’s wildfire in August declared the largest ever recorded in the EU. The wildfires that swept the continent in 2023 caused destruction, health risks and in some sad cases, reports of death across Europe’s most-loved destinations. 

As we continue to battle climate change, and with global temperatures set to still continuously rise over coming years, how can governments future-proof against the devastating loss of life of both humans and wildlife? 

To help answer, we’ve analysed data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), alongside various other metrics to determine how much each European country would benefit from implementing implementing early-detection Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, alongside the cost of the wildfires in comparison to investing in this technology.

Which countries in Europe have been worst affected by wildfires so far in 2023 – and what was the financial cost?

Few European countries have been untouched by wildfires in 2023, but our research reveals that Greece is the country with the largest area of land burned, and the country with the worst estimated economic impact. 

In fact, Greece’s summer wildfire in the northeast region was declared the worst the EU has ever seen, with the EU’s civil protection service saying the fire burned more than 810 sq km – an area bigger than New York City. 

Distrelec’s analysis of EFFIS data shows that Greece saw an estimated 174,773 hectares of land burned in 2023, with our research estimating damage costs of over €1.8 billion.

Second was Italy, with an estimated 97,382 hectares of land burned, with estimated costs of over €1 billion. Following Italy was Spain, with 88,444 hectares burned in 2023, with estimated costs of around €913 million

Take a look at the financial cost of wildfires in Europe in 2023 below: 

How much CO2 was emitted in Europe as a result of the 2023 wildfires? 

Another drastic side effect of wildfires is the CO2 emitted into our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide warms our planet, exasperating climate change and human activities are estimated to have raised the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content by an astounding 50% in 200 years. Worryingly, most wildfires are caused by humans, with estimations showing that only 10-15% of them happen by nature. 

Looking at the 23 European countries worst-affected by wildfires in 2023, we estimate that Europe’s wildfires caused a whopping 8,112,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions. 

Take a look at the breakdown per country in the table below: 

CountryCO2 emitted as a result (tonnes)

How much damage did 2023’s wildfires do to each country compared to the historical average? 

It’s no secret that global temperature rises have caused drastic changes in the number of wildfires we’re seeing across the globe. Wildfires are getting bigger and more intense, with many wildfires causing severe damage to entire ecosystems. 

Analysing historical EFFIS data, we’ve calculated the percentage difference in the hectares burn wildfires across Europe in 2023 compared to the annual average burnt by wildfires since the EFFIS started tracking in 2006: 

Could IoT sensors be the solution? 

The earlier a wildfire is discovered, the easier it is to stop or contain. Although early detection of fires in forested regions is particularly difficult, numerous startups and firms are developing IoT systems using wireless sensors to give early warning of wildfire activity. 

These IoT sensors can bear harsh forest conditions and, according to the ultra early wildfire detection experts, Dryad, volume costs of these sensors will be about €18.30 ($20) each. Using this cost, alongside the forest density of each country (in square km), the team at Distrelec estimated how many IoT sensors each country would need and the estimated cost to help curb wildfires. 

We estimate that Europe’s wildfires from 2023 have an estimated cost of almost €4.8 billion, yet the IoT wireless sensors that can trigger early warnings of wildfire activity would only cost around a marginal €1.8 million to purchase across the 23 worst-affected countries. 

For Greece, the worst-affected European country in 2023, the estimated cost of these IoT sensors is around just €47,600: almost 38,000 times less than the estimated €1.8 billion we estimate the wildfires could’ve cost the country in 2023. 

For Italy, the second-worst affected country in 2023, IoT sensors would cost around €117,000 and for Spain, the third-worst affected, around €226,000. 


We used EFFIS to locate the European countries experiencing the most severe wildfires this year. On average, every hectare of land burned costs around 10,334 euros which we then multiplied by the number of hectares burned in 2022 to calculate an estimated total cost.  

We then measured the forest density of these countries using World Bank data, dividing the km squared by 15 (the range of the IoT sensor) to calculate the number of sensors required. Using the average market cost of IoT sensors in bulk ($20 converted to 18.30 euros), we then calculated the total cost of these sensors, and what percentage this number was of the total estimated cost of wildfire damage. 

The average wildfire emits between 5 to 30 tons of carbon per 2.5 acres. 2.5 acres = 1.01171 hectare, average area used = (5=30)/2 = 17.50

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