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Using a fire propagation model to assess the efficiency of prescribed burning in reducing the fire hazard

Abstract : We examined howfire hazard was affected by prescribed burning and fuel recovery over the first six years following treatment. Eight common Mediterranean fuel complexes managed by means of prescribed burning in limestone Provence (South-Eastern France) were studied, illustrating forest and woodland, garrigue and grassland situations. The coupled atmosphere-wildfire behaviour model FIRETEC was used to simulate fire behaviour (ROS, intensity) in these complex vegetations. The temporal threshold related to the effectiveness of prescribed burning in reducing the fire hazard was assessed from derivated fuel dynamics after treatment. The study showed that prescribed burning treatment was effective for the first two years in most of the Mediterranean plant communities analysed. Thereafter, all forests and shrublands were highly combustible with a fire line intensity of more than 5000kW/m except for pine stands with or without oak (medium intensity of 2000kWm-1 3 years after treatment). Low fire line intensity (900kWm-1) was obtained for grassland which was entirely treatment-independent since the resprouter hemicryptophyte, Brachypodium retusum, is highly resilient to fire. Fire behaviour was greatly affected by fuel load accumulation of Quercus ilex in woodland, and by standing necromass of Rosmarinus officinalis in treated garrigue. Pure pine stands with shrub strata similar to garrigue showed a lower fire intensity due to wind speed decrease at ground level under tree canopy, underlining the advantage of maintaining a proportion of canopy cover in strategic fuel-break zones.
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Nathalie Cassagne, François Pimont, J.-L. Dupuy, R.R. Linn, Anders Marell, et al.. Using a fire propagation model to assess the efficiency of prescribed burning in reducing the fire hazard. Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, 2011, 222 (8), pp.1502-1514. ⟨10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.02.004⟩. ⟨hal-02594956⟩

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