International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire

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Understanding forest fire patterns and risk in Nepal using remote sensing, GIS, and historical fire data

Mir Matin , Vishwas Chitale , Manchiraju Murthy , Kabir Uddin , Birendra Bajracharya , Sudip Pradhan

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 about 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 analyzed 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 utilized by the Department of Forest for prioritization, preparedness, and resource allocation for fire control and mitigation.

WF16056  Accepted 15 February 2017

© CSIRO 2017