Integrated Vulnerability of Forest Systems to Wildfire: Implications on Forest Management Tools. VIS4FIRE Project

A special issue of Fire (ISSN 2571-6255).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 July 2024 | Viewed by 11546

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Instituto de Ciencias Forestales (ICIFOR-INIA), CSIC, Crta. A Coruña Km 7.5, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: forest fires; integrated fire management

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Forest Engineering, University of Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
Interests: fire vulnerability; fire management; fire prevention; fire behavior; fire risk and danger assessment
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
AGRESTA S. Coop., Calle Duque de Fernán Núñez 2, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Interests: forest management; forest ecology silviculture; forest conservation shrubs; fire ecology; landscape ecology; fire; lidar; remote sensing lidar

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wildfires are major threats in many forested areas with important socioeconomic and environmental implications. Climatic change predictions, forest management and land use changes (global change) will exacerbate the problem, generating additional threats and challenges in civil protection protocols and forest management.

The VIS4FIRE project is based on the concept of vulnerability of forest systems to fire and its implications for management strategies oriented to integrate wildfire management practices. Therefore, the main aim of VIS4FIRE is the characterization and analysis of the main components of vulnerability of forest systems to wildfire as the basis of an efficient normalized system. The evaluation of integral vulnerability to wildfires in order to carry out a more efficient integrated forest management protection of forests and landscapes is in the frame of sustainable forest management and adaptive silviculture. Consequently, to achieve this goal, we will develop methodologies, tools and technologies, applicable before, during and after the fire, through the following main topics:

  • Prediction of forest fuel characteristics as a key vulnerability factor to wildfire;
  • Determining the effects of fuel treatments (including prescribed fires) on vulnerability components;
  • Assessing the influence of fire severity and fire recurrence on forest systems’ resilience and vulnerability;
  • Improving wildfire behaviour predictions to reduce vulnerability in forest stands;
  • Econometric analysis of vulnerability: production and suppression capacity, decision support under uncertain environments and fire management;
  • Evaluation of post-fire restoration treatments’ efficacy and their influence on burned area vulnerability;
  • Approach to integral vulnerability analysis of forest areas including the development of new indices and tools based on modelling, remote sensing and computation of large and big data.

We invite additional authors to contribute with scientific and technological knowledge related to these topics

Dr. Javier Madrigal
Dr. Juan Ramón Molina Martínez
Dr. Eva Marino
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • decision support systems
  • econometrics
  • fire impacts
  • fire resilience
  • fire risk
  • fire vulnerability indices
  • flammability
  • forest fuels modelling
  • forest fire behaviour
  • remote sensing
  • resilience
  • post-fire restoration
  • software

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 5432 KiB  
Article
Burn Severity and Postfire Salvage Logging Effects on Vegetation and Soil System in a Short-Term Period in Mediterranean Pine Forests
by Esther Peña-Molina, Daniel Moya, Álvaro Fajardo-Cantos, Fuensanta García-Orenes, Jorge Mataix-Solera, Victoria Arcenegui, Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja and Jorge de las Heras
Fire 2024, 7(4), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7040127 - 09 Apr 2024
Viewed by 377
Abstract
Wildfires are a natural part of the dynamics of Mediterranean forest ecosystems. The fire patterns in the Mediterranean basin have been altered mainly due to changes in land use and climate change. In 2017, a wildfire in Yeste (Spain) burned 3200 hectares of [...] Read more.
Wildfires are a natural part of the dynamics of Mediterranean forest ecosystems. The fire patterns in the Mediterranean basin have been altered mainly due to changes in land use and climate change. In 2017, a wildfire in Yeste (Spain) burned 3200 hectares of two Mediterranean pine forests. We investigated the effects of burn severity and postfire salvage logging practices on vegetation and soil properties in four experimental areas distributed within the wildfire perimeter. These areas included unburned, low, high, and high burn severity with salvage logging, all located under Pinus halepensis Mill and Pinus pinaster Aiton stands. Salvage logging was applied 18 months after the fire. We established 72 circular plots (nine per treatment and pine species). We collected soil samples to analyze physicochemical and biological soil properties, including pH, electrical conductivity (EC), soil organic matter (SOM) content, carbon from microbial biomass (CBM), basal soil respiration (BSR), metabolic quotient (qCO2), and two enzymatic activities: β-glucosidase (GLU) and phosphatase (PHP). To understand how vegetation changed after fire, we implemented three linear transects per plot to calculate α-diversity indices (richness, Shannon, and Simpson), vegetation coverage (COBV), fraction of bare soil (BSOIL), the number of postfire seedlings (NSeed) and their average height (Hm), and we grouped vegetation into different postfire adaptive strategies: facultative seeder (R+S+), obligate resprouter (R+S−), obligate seeder (R−S+), and non-fire-adapted (R−S−). We ran ANOVA and Tukey’s HSD post hoc tests to evaluate the differences between burn severity and salvage logging practices on the variables examined for each pine stand. We used PCA and correlation analysis to identify plant-soil interactions. Our results suggest that Pinus halepensis stands were more affected by the wildfire than Pinus pinaster stands due to the distinct characteristics of each species (morphology of the leaves, bark thickness, cone structure, etc.) and the significant differences observed in terms of pH, SOM, CBM, qCO2, GLU, PHP, and Nseed. The proportion of obligate resprouter species was higher in Pinus halepensis stands, and the obligate seeder species were higher in Pinus pinaster stands. The study highlighted the importance of monitoring burn severity and postfire management practices to promote forest recovery and reduce wildfire risk. Limiting the negative impact of postfire salvage logging practices can enhance the resilience of vulnerable ecosystems. Full article
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25 pages, 1676 KiB  
Article
Site Quality Models and Fuel Load Dynamic Equation Systems Disaggregated by Size Fractions and Vegetative States in Gorse and High Heath Shrublands in Galicia (NW Spain)
by José A. Vega, Juan Gabriel Álvarez-González, Stéfano Arellano-Pérez, Cristina Fernández and Ana Daría Ruiz-González
Fire 2024, 7(4), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7040126 - 09 Apr 2024
Viewed by 232
Abstract
Compatible model systems were developed for estimating fuel load dynamics in Ulex europaeus (gorse) and in Erica australis (Spanish heath) dominated shrub communities at stand level. The models were based on intensive, detailed destructive field sampling and were fitted simultaneously to fulfill the [...] Read more.
Compatible model systems were developed for estimating fuel load dynamics in Ulex europaeus (gorse) and in Erica australis (Spanish heath) dominated shrub communities at stand level. The models were based on intensive, detailed destructive field sampling and were fitted simultaneously to fulfill the additivity principle. The models enable, for the first time, estimation of the biomass dynamics of the total shrub layer, size fractions and vegetative stage, with reasonably good accuracy. The approach used addresses the high variability in shrub biomass estimates by using a site index (SI) based on biomass levels at a reference age of 10 years. Analysis of the effect of climatic variables on site index confirmed the preference of gorse for mild temperatures and the ability of high heath communities to tolerate a wider range of temperatures. In the gorse communities, SI tended to increase as summer rainfall and the mean temperature of the coldest month increased. However, in the heath communities, no relationships were observed between SI and any of the climatic variables analyzed. The study findings may be useful for assessing and monitoring fuel hazards, updating fuel mapping, planning and implementing fuel reduction treatments and predicting fire behavior, among other important ecological and biomass use-related applications. Full article
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19 pages, 13321 KiB  
Article
Defining Disadvantaged Places: Social Burdens of Wildfire Exposure in the Eastern United States, 2000–2020
by Grayson R. Morgan, Erin M. Kemp, Margot Habets, Kyser Daniels-Baessler, Gwyneth Waddington, Susana Adamo, Carolynne Hultquist and Susan L. Cutter
Fire 2024, 7(4), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7040124 - 08 Apr 2024
Viewed by 384
Abstract
This study explores the relationship between wildfire exposure, social vulnerability, and community resilience across the 26 states east of the Mississippi River. This work centers around one research question: are there spatial differences in wildfire exposure that disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities in the [...] Read more.
This study explores the relationship between wildfire exposure, social vulnerability, and community resilience across the 26 states east of the Mississippi River. This work centers around one research question: are there spatial differences in wildfire exposure that disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities in the Eastern United States over the recent period (2000–2020)? Employing remotely sensed wildfire data and ancillary datasets, we analyze and map the extensive wildfire exposure in the Eastern United States and compare it with spatial metrics of social vulnerability and community resilience to examine the social burdens of wildfire exposure in the Eastern U.S. A discernible wildfire exposure pattern emerges, with the Southeast bearing the highest exposure levels, largely attributed to human-caused and prescribed burning. By establishing a measure of disadvantaged counties using social vulnerability and community resilience, we identify regions where wildfire exposures could have the most adverse impact—areas characterized by highly vulnerable populations and limited community capacity to respond effectively to potential events. In evaluating wildfire risk, we conclude that considering not only exposure levels but also the inclusion of disadvantaged areas (incorporating social vulnerability and community resilience) is essential for understanding the disparate impact of wildfires on individuals and the communities where they live. Full article
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13 pages, 1975 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Fire on Multiple Tree Species in the Eastern Deciduous Forest
by James H. Speer, Darrin L. Rubino and Joseph R. Robb
Fire 2024, 7(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire7010022 - 09 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1622
Abstract
Fire is a disturbance that serves to maintain the diverse mosaic of vegetation in the Eastern Deciduous Forest. However, our ability to reconstruct fire occurrence from hardwood tree scars still lags far behind our expertise in reconstructing fire history from conifers in the [...] Read more.
Fire is a disturbance that serves to maintain the diverse mosaic of vegetation in the Eastern Deciduous Forest. However, our ability to reconstruct fire occurrence from hardwood tree scars still lags far behind our expertise in reconstructing fire history from conifers in the western United States. This study examines the fidelity of fire scaring in multiple tree species in the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana, which is located in the central hardwood region of the Eastern Deciduous Forest. All 15 species, except for red oak, showed evidence of past fires, and most samples recorded multiple fire events. No fire scars were recorded in the latewood of the samples. Most of the fires scars occurred in the earlywood (May) suggesting the dormant season fires are likely associated with fires in March to April before the growing season begins. No synchronous fires were recorded across all sites, but fires occurred in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, and 1988 across multiple sites. This suggests that these were larger spreading fires. Establishment pulses were documented in association with fire events in 1981, 1984, and 1995, suggesting that fire may benefit the establishment or root sprouting of some hardwood species. Fourteen of the fifteen species that we sampled preserved fire scars, suggesting that the diverse suite of species in the Eastern Deciduous Forest is a viable sampling pool for examining fire history across this forest type. Full article
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19 pages, 3521 KiB  
Article
Empirical Modelling of Stem Cambium Heating Caused by Prescribed Burning in Mediterranean Pine Forest
by Javier Madrigal, Óscar Rodríguez de Rivera, Cristina Carrillo, Mercedes Guijarro, Carmen Hernando, José A. Vega, Pablo Martin-Pinto, Juan R. Molina, Cristina Fernández and Juncal Espinosa
Fire 2023, 6(11), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6110430 - 09 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1510
Abstract
Little is known about the interactions between the variables involved in the post-fire response of Mediterranean pine species to prescribed burning (PB). Thus, it is essential to develop an empirical model in order to assess the influence of tree and stand attributes, burn [...] Read more.
Little is known about the interactions between the variables involved in the post-fire response of Mediterranean pine species to prescribed burning (PB). Thus, it is essential to develop an empirical model in order to assess the influence of tree and stand attributes, burn season, and fire severity on the probability of stem cambium damage occurring. Prescribed burnings were conducted in different seasons and areas covering a wide climatic and ecological range. Potential explanatory variables were measured. A random effects hurdle model framework was used to evaluate the temperature duration above 60 °C as a proxy for stem cambium damage at tree scale. The results showed significant differences in cambium damage between the PB seasons. Pinus nigra was more resistant than other pine species. Bark thickness was critical for protecting cambium. Volume of crown scorch, percentage of stem scorch, and maximum outer bark temperature were directly related to temperature duration above 60 °C in the cambium. Prescribed burning conducted under tree canopy in Mediterranean pine species generally results in a low level of cambium damage. Empirical models could help managers to predict the effects of PB and thus select the most suitable prescriptions. Full article
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13 pages, 4093 KiB  
Article
Study on the Limit of Moisture Content of the Sub-Surface Fires Converted to the Surface Fires in the Boreal Forests of China
by Yanlong Shan, Xiang Chen, Sainan Yin, Lili Cao, Shuyuan Tang, Bo Yu and Chenxi Cui
Fire 2023, 6(9), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6090364 - 19 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 935
Abstract
A sub-surface forest fire is a type of smoldering combustion with a slower spread rate, longer combustion time, and lower combustion temperature compared with flame combustion. Sub-surface fires are usually accompanied by surface fires, and the surface fires’ conversion from sub-surface fires has [...] Read more.
A sub-surface forest fire is a type of smoldering combustion with a slower spread rate, longer combustion time, and lower combustion temperature compared with flame combustion. Sub-surface fires are usually accompanied by surface fires, and the surface fires’ conversion from sub-surface fires has great uncertainty. Therefore, there are considerable difficulties in monitoring and fighting sub-surface fires. However, there are few studies on the conversion from sub-surface fires to surface fires, and the mechanism and influencing factors of the conversion remain unclear. This study focuses on Larix gmelinii forests, which are representative of the boreal forest of China and hot spots of sub-surface fires, studies the moisture content limit of sub-surface fires’ conversion to surface fires by simulating a smoldering experiment, and establishes a monitoring model of sub-surface fires and an occurrence probability prediction model of sub-surface fires’ conversion to surface fires. The results showed that the moisture content limit of the conversion was 25% in the grass–Larix gmelinii forest and Ledum palustreLarix gmelinii forest and 20% in Rhododendron dauricumLarix gmelinii forest. There was a significant positive correlation between the time and temperature caused by the smoldering. The monitoring model of the sub-surface fires based on the surface temperature and moisture content had a good fitting effect (p < 0.01). The occurrence probability prediction model of the sub-surface fires’ conversion to surface fires, based on a logistic regression model, had high prediction accuracy (AUC = 0.987). The lower the moisture content of the humus, the closer the smoldering came to the surface and the higher the probability of conversion. This research could contribute to the study of the mechanism of sub-surface fires’ conversion into surface fires. Full article
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18 pages, 3903 KiB  
Article
Short-Term Effects of Prescribed Burn Seasonality on the Understory in a Pinus nigra Arnold subsp. salzmannii (Dunal) Franco Mediterranean Forest
by Álvaro Fajardo-Cantos, Daniel Moya, Manuel Esteban Lucas-Borja, Pedro Antonio Plaza-Álvarez, Esther Peña-Molina, Javier González-Romero and Jorge de las Heras-Ibañez
Fire 2023, 6(8), 283; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6080283 - 27 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1020
Abstract
Worsening climate change and increasing temperatures generate more sever and extended wildfires, raising concerns about ecosystem services. Prescribed burns (PB) are used to reduce forest fuel loads. Improving knowledge regarding the vegetation response after PB is essential for generating common points for monitoring [...] Read more.
Worsening climate change and increasing temperatures generate more sever and extended wildfires, raising concerns about ecosystem services. Prescribed burns (PB) are used to reduce forest fuel loads. Improving knowledge regarding the vegetation response after PB is essential for generating common points for monitoring ecological burning effects and generating a protocol or practice guide. We compared the PB seasonality of low-intensity (spring, summer, and autumn) and unburned areas in a total of 12 plots in Pinus nigra Arnold ssp. salzmannii Mediterranean forest. Our vegetation analysis was short term (one year after each PB). We analyzed vegetation coverage, α-diversity (Pielou, Simpson, and Shannon’s index), life forms, and fire-adapted traits using the Canfield transect method, followed by statistical analyses such as non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and two-way ANOVA. α-diversity was significantly decreased (>55% of dissimilarity) in the burned plots during each season, with the lowest values after summer PB (69% of dissimilarity) when comparing the burned and unburned plots. There was a significant increase in hemicryptophytes (15−20%) and geophyte coverage (from 6% to 14%, or from 4% to 8% in certain cases) in the burned plots after PB seasonality; however, the phanerophytes were reduced (from 13% to 5%). Resprouters were more dominant after PB (an increase of 15–20%), which indicates that resprouters have a faster recovery and generate a fuel load quickly for highly flammable species such as Bromus after low-intensity burning. This suggests that low-intensity prescribed burning may not be the best methodology for these resprouting species. This study helps to understand how burning in the early season can affect inflammable vegetation and the change in fuel that is available in semi-arid landscapes. This is key to achieving the basis for the development of a standardized system that allows for the efficient management of forest services in order to reduce wildfire risks. One objective of this line of research is to observe the effects of recurrent burning in different seasons on vegetation, as well as plant−soil interaction using the microbial and enzyme soil activity. Full article
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15 pages, 18417 KiB  
Article
Wildfire Intensity and Fire Emissions in Siberia
by Evgenii I. Ponomarev, Andrey N. Zabrodin, Eugene G. Shvetsov and Tatiana V. Ponomareva
Fire 2023, 6(7), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6070246 - 22 Jun 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1863
Abstract
An analysis of fire characteristics in the boreal forests of Siberia (50–75° N, 60–140° E) was performed for the period 2002–2022. We found a positive trend in the proportion of high-intensity fires in dominant forest stands of Siberia based on long-term series of [...] Read more.
An analysis of fire characteristics in the boreal forests of Siberia (50–75° N, 60–140° E) was performed for the period 2002–2022. We found a positive trend in the proportion of high-intensity fires in dominant forest stands of Siberia based on long-term series of variations in the Fire Radiative Power (FRP) measurements from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Our results showed that there was an increase in the proportion of areas of high-intensity fires over the past decade on about ~30% of the boreal forests of Siberia, including the Arctic zone. For the sample group of fires, the level of correlation (R2 = 0.80–0.94) between the fire impact, classified according to the NBR/dNBR technology, and the integral FRP values was revealed. The intensity of combustion in terms of FRP is associated with the volume of burned biomass and determines the dynamics of specific emissions values per unit area. The results suggest that further increase in fire emissions in Siberia will be determined not only by an increase of burned areas, but also by a redistribution of low- and high-intensity burning and an increase in specific emission values. Finally, we estimated that Siberian fires are responsible for about 5–20% of the total volume of greenhouse gas emissions in the Russian Federation, depending on the fire season scenario. The recurrence of extremely high emissions (296–350 Tg C/year) will make it possible to consider part of Siberian forests as a source of carbon in the nearest future. Full article
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13 pages, 2785 KiB  
Article
Wildfires Improve Forest Growth Resilience to Drought
by Jesús Julio Camarero, Mercedes Guijarro, Rafael Calama, Cristina Valeriano, Manuel Pizarro and Javier Madrigal
Fire 2023, 6(4), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6040161 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1720
Abstract
In seasonally dry forests, wildfires can reduce competition for soil water among trees and improve forest resilience to drought. We tested this idea by comparing tree-ring growth patterns of Pinus pinea stands subjected to two prescribed burning intensities (H, high; L, low) and [...] Read more.
In seasonally dry forests, wildfires can reduce competition for soil water among trees and improve forest resilience to drought. We tested this idea by comparing tree-ring growth patterns of Pinus pinea stands subjected to two prescribed burning intensities (H, high; L, low) and compared them with unburned (U) control stands in southwestern Spain. Then, we assessed post-growth resilience to two droughts that occurred before (2005) and after (2012) the prescribed burning (2007). Resilience was quantified as changes in radial growth using resilience indices and as changes in cover and greenness using the NDVI. The NDVI sharply dropped after the fire, and minor drops were also observed after the 2005 and 2012 droughts. We found that post-drought growth and resilience were improved in the H stands, where growth also showed the lowest coherence among individual trees and the lowest correlation with water year precipitation. In contrast, trees from the L site showed the highest correlations with precipitation and the drought index. These findings suggest that tree growth recovered better after drought and responded less to water shortage in the H trees. Therefore, high-intensity fires are linked to reduced drought stress in Mediterranean pine forests. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Transferability of empirical models derived from satellite imagery for live fuel moisture content estimation and fire risk prediction

Eva Marino1, Lucía Yañez1, Mercedes Guijarro2, Francisco Senra3, Sergio Rogríguez3, José Luis Tomé1

Estimation of live fuel moisture content (LFMC) is critical for vegetation flammability assessment and potential fire behaviour prediction, providing relevant information in wildfire prevention and management. Previous research demonstrates that empirical modelling based on spectral data derived from remote sensing is useful to retrieve LFMC. However, these types of models are often very site-specific and generally considered difficult to extrapolate. In the present work, we analysed the performance of empirical models based on spectral data derived from Sentinel-2 for LFMC estimation in fire-prone shrubland dominated by Citus ladanifer. For this purpose, we used field data of LFMC monitored between June 2021 and September 2022 in 27 plots in Andalusia region (South Spain). The specific objectives of the study included: i) testing of previous models fitted for the same shrubland species in a different study area in Madrid region (Central Spain); ii) calibration of empirical models with the field data from Andalusia region, comparing the results with the performance of previous existing models; iii) testing the performance of the best empirical models to predict LFMC decrease to critical threshold values in historical wildfire events. Our results showed that: i) empirical models derived from Sentinel-2 provided a good accuracy in LFMC monitoring, with a mean absolute error (MAE) of 15% in the estimation of LFMC variability along the year, and with an error decreasing to MAE of 10% for the critical lower LFMC values (< 100%);  ii) previous models could be easily recalibrated for the extrapolation to a different geographical area, achieving similar errors to the specific empirical models fitted in the study area in independent validation; iii) LFMC decrease in historic wildfire events were accurately predicted by the empirical models, occurring under LFMC values < 80% for this fire-prone shrubland species.
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