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

Fuel reduction burning mitigates wildfire effects on forest carbon and greenhouse gas emission

Liubov Volkova A B E , C. P. (Mick) Meyer B C , Simon Murphy D , Thomas Fairman D , Fabienne Reisen B C and Christopher Weston A B

A Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, 4 Water Street, Creswick, Vic. 3363, Australia.

B Bushfire CRC, Level 5, 340 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Vic. 3002, Australia.

C CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, PMB 1, Aspendale, Vic. 3195, Australia.

D Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Vic. 3121, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: lubav@unimelb.edu.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 23(6) 771-780 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF14009
Submitted: 20 January 2014  Accepted: 9 April 2014   Published: 27 June 2014

Abstract

A high-intensity wildfire burnt through a dry Eucalyptus forest in south-eastern Australia that had been fuel reduced with fire 3 months prior, presenting a unique opportunity to measure the effects of fuel reduction (FR) on forest carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from wildfires at the start of the fuel accumulation cycle. Less than 3% of total forest carbon to 30-cm soil depth was transferred to the atmosphere in FR burning; the subsequent wildfire transferred a further 6% to the atmosphere. There was a 9% loss in carbon for the FR–wildfire sequence. In nearby forest, last burnt 25 years previously, the wildfire burning transferred 16% of forest carbon to the atmosphere and was characterised by more complete combustion of all fuels and less surface charcoal deposition, compared with fuel-reduced forest. Compared to the fuel-reduced forests, release of non-CO2 GHG doubled following wildfire in long-unburnt forest. Although this is the maximum emission mitigation likely within a planned burning cycle, it suggests a significant potential for FR burns to mitigate GHG emissions in forests at high risk from wildfires.

Additional keywords: biomass, charcoal, emission factors, greenhouse gases, modified combustion efficiency.


References

Adams MA (2013) Mega-fires, tipping points and ecosystem services: managing forests and woodlands in an uncertain future. Forest Ecology and Management 294, 250–261.
Mega-fires, tipping points and ecosystem services: managing forests and woodlands in an uncertain future.CrossRef | open url image1

Alexander ME, Cruz MG (2012) Graphical aids for visualizing Byram’s fireline intensity in relation to flame length and crown scorch height. Forestry Chronicle 88, 185–190.
Graphical aids for visualizing Byram’s fireline intensity in relation to flame length and crown scorch height.CrossRef | open url image1

Andreae MO, Merlet P (2001) Emission of trace gases and aerosols from biomass burning. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 15, 955–966.
Emission of trace gases and aerosols from biomass burning.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38XjtV2iuw%3D%3D&md5=77fb21f09ce1f3d3766ca1ef3e8df5f9CAS | open url image1

Bi HQ, Turner J, Lambert MJ (2004) Additive biomass equations for native eucalypt forest trees of temperate Australia. Trees-Structure and Function 18, 467–479.
Additive biomass equations for native eucalypt forest trees of temperate Australia.CrossRef | open url image1

Boer MM, Sadler RJ, Wittkuhn RS, McCaw L, Grierson PF (2009) Long-term impacts of prescribed burning on regional extent and incidence of wildfires – evidence from 50 years of active fire management in SW Australian forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259, 132–142.
Long-term impacts of prescribed burning on regional extent and incidence of wildfires – evidence from 50 years of active fire management in SW Australian forests.CrossRef | open url image1

Bradstock RA, Boer MM, Cary GJ, Price OF, Williams RJ, Barrett D, Cook G, Gill AM, Hutley LBW, Keith H, Maier SW, Meyer M, Roxburgh SH, Russell-Smith J (2012) Modelling the potential for prescribed burning to mitigate carbon emissions from wildfires in fire-prone forests of Australia. International Journal of Wildland Fire 21, 629–639.
Modelling the potential for prescribed burning to mitigate carbon emissions from wildfires in fire-prone forests of Australia.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC38XhtlGmsrfE&md5=bea813b029285452abf8afb7282010a2CAS | open url image1

Byram GM (1959) Combustion of forest fuels. In ‘Forest fire: Control and Use’. (Ed. KP Davis) pp. 61–89. (New York: McGraw Hill)

DCC (2012) Australian National Greenhouse Gas Accounts: Inventory Report 2–11, Volume 2, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Commonwealth of Australia, April 2013. Available at http://www.climatechange.gov.au/sites/climatechange/files/documents/05_2013/AUS_NIR_2011_Vol2.pdf [Verified 18 May 2014]

DeLuca TH, Aplet GH (2008) Charcoal and carbon storage in forest soils of the Rocky Mountain West. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 6, 18–24.
Charcoal and carbon storage in forest soils of the Rocky Mountain West.CrossRef | open url image1

Dore S, Kolb TE, Montes-Helu M, Sullivan BW, Winslow WD, Hart SC, Kaye JP, Koch GW, Hungate BA (2008) Long-term impact of a stand-replacing fire on ecosystem CO2 exchange of a ponderosa pine forest. Global Change Biology 14, 1801–1820.
Long-term impact of a stand-replacing fire on ecosystem CO2 exchange of a ponderosa pine forest.CrossRef | open url image1

Fernandes PM, Botelho HS (2003) A review of prescribed burning effectiveness in fire hazard reduction. International Journal of Wildland Fire 12, 117–128.
A review of prescribed burning effectiveness in fire hazard reduction.CrossRef | open url image1

Gould J, Cruz M (2012) Australian fuel classification: stage II. (Ecosystem Sciences and Climate Adaption Flagship, CSIRO: Canberra)

Hurst DF, Griffith DWT, Cook GD (1994) Trace gas emissions from biomass burning in tropical Australian savannas. Journal of Geophysical Research, D, Atmospheres 99, 16 441–16 456.
Trace gas emissions from biomass burning in tropical Australian savannas.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DyaK2cXms1ahsbs%3D&md5=6b93b585745816d545421f645746229cCAS | open url image1

Hurteau M, North M (2009) Fuel treatment effects on tree-based forest carbon storage and emissions under modeled wildfire scenarios. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7, 409–414.
Fuel treatment effects on tree-based forest carbon storage and emissions under modeled wildfire scenarios.CrossRef | open url image1

IPCC (2003) ‘Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry.’ (Eds J Penman, M Gytarsky, T Hiraishi, T Krug, D Kruger, R Pipatti, L Buendia, K Miwa, T Ngara, K Tanabe, F Wagner) pp. 3.11–3.22 (Institute for Global Environmental Strategies for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Kanagawa, Japan)

IPCC (2006) Agriculture, forestry and other land use. In ‘Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories’, Vol. 4 (Eds S Eggleston, L Buendia, K Miwa, T Ngara, K Tanabe) pp. 2.40–2.49. (Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Hayama, Japan)

King KJ, Cary GJ, Bradstock RA, Marsden-Smedley JB (2013) Contrasting fire responses to climate and management: insights from two Australian ecosystems. Global Change Biology 19, 1223–1235.
Contrasting fire responses to climate and management: insights from two Australian ecosystems.CrossRef | 23504898PubMed | open url image1

Knicker H (2007) How does fire affect the nature and stability of soil organic nitrogen and carbon? A review. Biogeochemistry 85, 91–118.
How does fire affect the nature and stability of soil organic nitrogen and carbon? A review.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2sXntlajs7c%3D&md5=162c92e2ca836e36a467f705b98f1fa0CAS | open url image1

Liu YQ, Stanturf J, Goodrick S (2010) Trends in global wildfire potential in a changing climate. Forest Ecology and Management 259, 685–697.
Trends in global wildfire potential in a changing climate.CrossRef | open url image1

McCaw WL (2013) Managing forest fuels using prescribed fire – a perspective from southern Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 294, 217–224.
Managing forest fuels using prescribed fire – a perspective from southern Australia.CrossRef | open url image1

Meyer CP, Cook GD, Reisen F, Smith TEL, Tattaris M, Russell-Smith J, Maier SW, Yates CP, Wooster MJ (2012) , Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres 117, D20305

Narayan C, Fernandes PM, van Brusselen J, Schuck A (2007) Potential for CO2 emissions mitigation in Europe through prescribed burning in the context of the Kyoto Protocol. Forest Ecology and Management 251, 164–173.
Potential for CO2 emissions mitigation in Europe through prescribed burning in the context of the Kyoto Protocol.CrossRef | open url image1

Noble IR, Bary GA, Gill AM (1980) McArthur’s fire-danger meters expressed as equations. Australian Journal of Ecology 5, 201–203.
McArthur’s fire-danger meters expressed as equations.CrossRef | open url image1

Nocentini C, Certini G, Knicker H, Francioso O, Rumpel C (2010) Nature and reactivity of charcoal produced and added to soil during wildfire are particle-size dependent. Organic Geochemistry 41, 682–689.
Nature and reactivity of charcoal produced and added to soil during wildfire are particle-size dependent.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3cXmvFygt7Y%3D&md5=dc7c373ab43260553ced6f218c9492d3CAS | open url image1

North MP, Hurteau MD (2011) High-severity wildfire effects on carbon stocks and emissions in fuels treated and untreated forest. Forest Ecology and Management 261, 1115–1120.
High-severity wildfire effects on carbon stocks and emissions in fuels treated and untreated forest.CrossRef | open url image1

Rein G, Garcia J, Simeoni A, Tihay V, Ferrat L (2008) Smouldering natural fires: comparison of burning dynamics in boreal peat and Mediterranean humus. WIT Transaction on Ecology and the Environment 119, 183–192.
Smouldering natural fires: comparison of burning dynamics in boreal peat and Mediterranean humus.CrossRef | open url image1

Russell-Smith J, Murphy BP, Meyer CP, Cook GD, Maier S, Edwards AC, Schatz J, Brocklehurst P (2009) Improving estimates of savanna burning emissions for greenhouse accounting in northern Australia: limitations, challenges, applications. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 1–18.
Improving estimates of savanna burning emissions for greenhouse accounting in northern Australia: limitations, challenges, applications.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1MXhvFaqs74%3D&md5=65f47e1ac0dca4c4d8833bae380a557eCAS | open url image1

Russell-Smith J, Cook GD, Cooke PM, Edwards AC, Lendrum M, Meyer CP, Whitehead PJ (2013) Managing fire regimes in north Australian savannas: applying Aboriginal approaches to contemporary global problems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11, e55–e63.
Managing fire regimes in north Australian savannas: applying Aboriginal approaches to contemporary global problems.CrossRef | open url image1

Santín C, Knicker H, Fernández S, Menéndez-Duarte R, Álvarez MÁ (2008) Wildfires influence on soil organic matter in an Atlantic mountainous region (NW of Spain). Catena 74, 286–295.
Wildfires influence on soil organic matter in an Atlantic mountainous region (NW of Spain).CrossRef | open url image1

Sullivan AL, Knight IK, Cheney NP (2002) Predicting the radiant heat flux from burning logs in a forest following a fire. Australian Forestry 65, 59–67.
Predicting the radiant heat flux from burning logs in a forest following a fire.CrossRef | open url image1

Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission (2010) Fire preparation, response and recovery. In ‘Final Report‘, Vol. II, Part 2 pp. 429. (Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne)

Vilén T, Fernandes P (2011) Forest fires in Mediterranean countries: CO2 emissions and mitigation possibilities through prescribed burning. Environmental Management 48, 558–567.
Forest fires in Mediterranean countries: CO2 emissions and mitigation possibilities through prescribed burning.CrossRef | 21604164PubMed | open url image1

Volkova L, Weston C (2013a) Redistribution and emission of forest carbon by planned burning in Eucalyptus obliqua (L. Hérit.) forest of south-eastern Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 304, 383–390.
Redistribution and emission of forest carbon by planned burning in Eucalyptus obliqua (L. Hérit.) forest of south-eastern Australia.CrossRef | open url image1

Volkova L, Weston C (2013b) Measuring forest carbon and fire emission from southern Eucalyptus forests: key findings and some lessons learnt. In ‘Proceedings of Bushfire CRC and AFAC 2013 Conference Research Forum’, 2 September 2013, Melbourne. (Ed. LJ Wright) pp. 149–160. (Bushfire CRC: Melbourne).

Welch SL, Higgings DV, Callaway GA (Eds) (2011) Surface geology of Victoria 1: 250 000. Geological survey of Victoria. (Department of Primary Industries, Victoria: Melbourne).

Wiedinmyer C, Hurteau MD (2010) Prescribed fire as a means of reducing forest carbon emissions in the western United States. Environmental Science & Technology 44, 1926–1932.
Prescribed fire as a means of reducing forest carbon emissions in the western United States.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BC3cXhvVGqurY%3D&md5=ea45ab5492199a0f5530c52fefec2ca7CAS | open url image1



Export Citation Cited By (8)