Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Understanding the impact of different landscape-level fuel management strategies on wildfire hazard

Version 1 : Received: 28 February 2021 / Approved: 1 March 2021 / Online: 1 March 2021 (18:23:23 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Benali, A.; Sá, A.C.L.; Pinho, J.; Fernandes, P.M.; Pereira, J.M.C. Understanding the Impact of Different Landscape-Level Fuel Management Strategies on Wildfire Hazard in Central Portugal. Forests 2021, 12, 522. Benali, A.; Sá, A.C.L.; Pinho, J.; Fernandes, P.M.; Pereira, J.M.C. Understanding the Impact of Different Landscape-Level Fuel Management Strategies on Wildfire Hazard in Central Portugal. Forests 2021, 12, 522.

Journal reference: Forests 2021, 12, 522
DOI: 10.3390/f12050522

Abstract

The disastrous 2017 fire season in Portugal lead to widespread recognition of the need for a paradigm shift in forest and fire management. We focused our study on Alvares, a parish in central Portugal which had 60% of its area burned in 2017, with a large record of historical. We evaluated how different fuel treatment strategies can reduce wildfire hazard in Alvares, through i) a fuel break network with different priorities and ii) random fuel treatments resulting from stand-level management intensification. To assess this, we developed a stochastic fire simulation system (FUNC-SIM) that integrates uncertainties in fuel distribution over the landscape. If the landscape remains unchanged, Alvares will have large burn probabilities in the north, northeast, and center-east areas of the parish that are very often associated with high fire line intensities. The different fuel treatment scenarios decreased burned area between 12.1-31.2%, resulting from 1%-4.6% increases in annual treatment area, and reduced 10%-40% the likelihood of wildfires larger than 5000 ha. On average, simulated burned area decreased 0.22% per each ha treated, and effectiveness decreased with increasing area treated. Overall, both fuel treatment strategies effectively reduced wildfire hazard and should be part of a larger, holistic and integrated plan to reduce the vulnerability of the Alvares parish to wildfires.

Keywords

wildfire; hazard; modelling; stochastic; fuel treatment; fuel breaks; forest management

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