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

Fuel management effectiveness in a mixed heathland: a comparison of the effect of different treatment types on fire initiation risk

Eva Marino A B , Carmen Hernando A , Javier Madrigal A , Carmen Díez A and Mercedes Guijarro A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centro de Investigación Forestal, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.

B Corresponding author. Email: eva.marino.delamo@gmail.com

International Journal of Wildland Fire 21(8) 969-979 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF11111
Submitted: 4 August 2011  Accepted: 15 February 2012   Published: 27 July 2012

Abstract

Fuel management is commonly used to reduce fire risk in fire-prone shrubland, but information about the real efficacy of the different techniques is scarce. In this study, we assessed in the laboratory the effects of different treatment types on fire initiation risk in a mixed heathland. The effects of two mechanical treatments and of prescribed burning were compared with untreated vegetation. Flammability tests were performed in samples of the regenerated shrubs and fine ground fuels present 2 years after treatments. Results indicate that all treatments were effective in reducing fire initiation risk in regenerated shrubs, but not in fine ground fuels. Recovery of vegetation differed between treatments, and treatment type had a significant effect on flammability, mainly affecting fire sustainability. Wind speed had a minor effect on shrub fuel flammability, whereas fuel moisture had a significant effect. The flammability of fine ground fuels differed significantly depending on fuel moisture content, even at the low levels tested. Logistic models were fitted to predict successful fire sustainability, and the probability of initial propagation was obtained as a function of treatment type, fuel moisture content and fuel structural characteristics. This study provides new insights into wildfire prevention in shrubland, and compares the effectiveness of different fuel treatment techniques.

Additional keywords: flammability, fuel reduction, Galicia (north-western Spain), prescribed burning, shrub clearing, shrubland.


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