Preprint Article Version 1 NOT YET PEER-REVIEWED

Impacts of land management on the resilience of Mediterranean dry forests to fire

  1. Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland
  2. Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), Switzerland
  3. Mediterranean Centre for Environmental Studies (Foundation CEAM), Spain
Version 1 : Received: 26 July 2016 / Approved: 27 July 2016 / Online: 27 July 2016 (10:01:44 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Jucker Riva, M.; Liniger, H.; Valdecantos, A.; Schwilch, G. Impacts of Land Management on the Resilience of Mediterranean Dry Forests to Fire. Sustainability 2016, 8, 981. Jucker Riva, M.; Liniger, H.; Valdecantos, A.; Schwilch, G. Impacts of Land Management on the Resilience of Mediterranean Dry Forests to Fire. Sustainability 2016, 8, 981.

Journal reference: Sustainability 2016, 8, 981
DOI: 10.3390/su8100981

Abstract

Wildfires have always been a part of the history of Mediterranean forests. However, forest regeneration after a wildfire is not certain. It depends on many factors, some of which may be influenced by land management activities. Failure of regeneration will cause a regime shift in the ecosystem, reducing the provision of ecosystem services and ultimately leading to desertification. How can we increase Mediterranean forests’ resilience to fire? To answer this question, we did a literature review, investigating chains of processes that allow forests to regenerate (which we label “regeneration mechanisms”), and assessed the impact of selected management practices documented in the WOCAT database on the regeneration mechanisms. We identified three distinct regeneration mechanisms that enable Mediterranean forests to recover, as well as the time frame before and after a fire in which they are at work, and factors that can hinder or support resilience. The three regeneration mechanisms enabling a forest to regenerate after a fire consist of regeneration (1) from a seed bank; (2) from resprouting individuals; and (3) from unburned plants that escaped the fire. Management practices were grouped into four categories: (1) fuel breaks, (2) fuel management, (3) afforestation, and (4) mulching. We assessed how and under what conditions land management modifies the ecosystem’s resilience. The results show that land management influences resilience by interacting with resilience mechanisms before and after the fire, and not just by modifying the fire regime. Our analysis demonstrates a need for adaptive – i.e. context- and time-specific – management strategies.

Subject Areas

resilience, land management, wildfire, Mediterranean dry forest

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