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

Relative importance of fuel management, ignition management and weather for area burned: evidence from five landscape–fire–succession models

Geoffrey J. Cary A B H , Mike D. Flannigan C , Robert E. Keane D , Ross A. Bradstock B E , Ian D. Davies A , James M. Lenihan F , Chao Li G , Kimberley A. Logan C and Russell A. Parsons D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The Fenner School of Environment and Society, Linnaeus Way (Building 48), College of Medicine, Biology & The Environment, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

B Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, Level 5, 340 Albert St., East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia.

C Canadian Forest Service, 1219 Queen St. East, Sault Ste Marie, ON, P6A 2E5, Canada.

D USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, 5775 W Broadway St., Missoula, MT 59808, USA.

E Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), PO Box 1967, Hurstville, NSW 1481, Australia.

F USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.

G Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, 5320-122nd St., Edmonton, AB, T6H 3S5, Canada.

H Corresponding author. Email:

International Journal of Wildland Fire 18(2) 147-156
Submitted: 27 June 2007  Accepted: 17 June 2008   Published: 3 April 2009


The behaviour of five landscape fire models (CAFÉ, FIRESCAPE, LAMOS(HS), LANDSUM and SEM-LAND) was compared in a standardised modelling experiment. The importance of fuel management approach, fuel management effort, ignition management effort and weather in determining variation in area burned and number of edge pixels burned (a measure of potential impact on assets adjacent to fire-prone landscapes) was quantified for a standardised modelling landscape. Importance was measured as the proportion of variation in area or edge pixels burned explained by each factor and all interactions among them. Weather and ignition management were consistently more important for explaining variation in area burned than fuel management approach and effort, which were found to be statistically unimportant. For the number of edge pixels burned, weather and ignition management were generally more important than fuel management approach and effort. Increased ignition management effort resulted in decreased area burned in all models and decreased number of edge pixels burned in three models. The findings demonstrate that year-to-year variation in weather and the success of ignition management consistently prevail over the effects of fuel management on area burned in a range of modelled ecosystems.

Additional keywords: CAFÉ, fire management, FIRESCAPE, LAMOS, LANDSUM, model comparison, SEM-LAND, simulation modelling.


Sandra Lavorel contributed suggestions regarding the experimental design. Hong He contributed suggestions about approaches for analysing the results and interpreting the findings. Scott Stephens and Malcolm Gill are gratefully acknowledged for comments on an earlier manuscript. The Program for Energy Research and Development (PERD) of Natural Resources Canada and the US National Fire Plan are gratefully acknowledged for partially funding the present research.


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