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International Journal of Wildland Fire
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 Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Short-term effect of fuel treatments on fire behaviour in a mixed-heathland: a comparative assessment in an outdoor wind-tunnel

Eva Marino, Carmen Hernando, Javier Madrigal, Mercedes Guijarro


Fuel management is one of the main challenges for wildfire prevention in the Mediterranean region, where wildfires have important environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Different treatment types are usually applied in fire-prone shrubland to try to modify its flammability. However, a knowledge gap on the effectiveness of fuel management techniques still exists. We studied the effects of two mechanical treatments (shrub crushing and shrub clearing with removal) and of prescribed burning on fire behaviour, and compared them with untreated vegetation. Experimental burns in 0.8 m x 6 m samples of regenerated shrubs two years after treatments were performed in an outdoor wind-tunnel. All fuel treatments effectively modified fire behaviour, but no significant difference between treatment types was observed. Shrub fuel structure was the main factor affecting fire behaviour. Reduction of fuel load and height, especially necromass fraction, decreased flame height and fire intensity, but did not affect fire rate of spread. Moisture contents of live and dead fuel fractions were not significant as independent parameters, but the average moisture level of the shrub fuel complex showed a relevant effect in determining fire behaviour. Temperature regime within and above the shrubs was also related to shrub fuel structure. This study contributes to understanding fuel management in shrubland by providing information about different fuel treatments effects on fire behaviour.

WF13175  Accepted 21 May 2014
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