International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Understanding forest fire patterns and risk in Nepal using remote sensing, geographic information system and historical fire data

Mir A. Matin A B , Vishwas Sudhir Chitale A , Manchiraju S. R. Murthy A , Kabir Uddin A , Birendra Bajracharya A and Sudip Pradhan A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal.

B Corresponding author. Email: mir.matin@icimod.org

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(4) 276-286 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16056
Submitted: 4 April 2016  Accepted: 15 February 2017   Published: 4 April 2017

Abstract

Forest fire is one of the key drivers of forest degradation in Nepal. Most of the forest fires are human-induced and occur during the dry season, with ~89% occurring in March, April and May. The inaccessible mountainous terrain and narrow time window of occurrence complicate suppression efforts. In this paper, forest fire patterns are analysed based on historical fire incidence data to explore the spatial and temporal patterns of forest fires in Nepal. Three main factors are involved in the ignition and spread of forest fires, namely fuel availability, temperature and ignition potential. Using these factors a spatially distributed fire risk index was calculated for Nepal based on a linear model using weights and ratings. The input parameters for the risk assessment model were generated using remote sensing based land cover, temperature and active fire data, and topographic data. A relative risk ranking was also calculated for districts and village development committees (VDCs). In total, 18 out of 75 districts were found with high risk of forest fires. The district and VDC level fire risk ranking could be utilised by the Department of Forest for prioritisation, preparedness and resource allocation for fire control and mitigation.

Additional keywords: fire behaviour, fire danger, fire management, fire risk.


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