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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 16(5)

Modelling the effects of landscape fuel treatments on fire growth and behaviour in a Mediterranean landscape (eastern Spain)

Beatriz Duguy A C, José Antonio Alloza A, Achim Röder B, Ramón Vallejo A, Francisco Pastor A

A Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo (CEAM), Charles Darwin 14, E-46980 Paterna, Valencia, Spain.
B University of Trier, Remote Sensing Department, Campus II, D-54286 Trier, Germany.
C Corresponding author. Email: beatriz.duguy@gmail.com
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The number of large fires increased in the 1970s in the Valencia region (eastern Spain), as in most northern Mediterranean countries, owing to the fuel accumulation that affected large areas as a consequence of an intensive land abandonment. The Ayora site (Valencia province) was affected by a large fire in July 1979. We parameterised the fire growth model FARSITE for the 1979 fire conditions using remote sensing-derived fuel cartography. We simulated different fuel scenarios to study the interactions between fuel spatial distribution and fire characteristics (area burned, rate of spread and fireline intensity). We then tested the effectiveness of several firebreak networks on fire spread control. Simulations showed that fire propagation and behaviour were greatly influenced by fuel spatial distribution. The fragmentation of large dense shrubland areas through the introduction of wooded patches strongly reduced fire size, generally slowing fire and limiting fireline intensity. Both the introduction of forest corridors connecting woodlands and the promotion of complex shapes for wooded patches decreased the area burned. Firebreak networks were always very effective in reducing fire size and their effect was enhanced in appropriate fuel-altered scenarios. Most firebreak alternatives, however, did not reduce either rate of fire spread or fireline intensity.

Keywords: FARSITE, fire modelling, firebreak network, fuel spatial distribution, landscape diversity, resilience to fire, spatial technologies.

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