Potential crown fire behavior in Pinus pinea stands following different fuel treatments

Juan Ramon Molina, F Rodriguez y Silva, M A Herrera


Forest fires are permanent seasonal threats that have been accentuated in recent years by climate change. Taking this problem into consideration, forest policies must propose courses of action to mitigate the effects of fires on ecosystems and their surrounding population. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness silvicultural treatments of Pinus pinea stands at the polewood stage have on potential fire behavior. Evaluating fire behavior requires a characterization of the fuel at its two levels: surface and crown layers. Given the temporal costs of the latter characterization, field inventory has yielded an equation from which canopy fuel load can be obtained without cutting trees. A complete characterization of the fuel allows for a prediction of fire behavior for each silvicultural treatment and whether or not it will be virulent enough to transfer into crown fire. Polewood stands of P.pinea are susceptible to crown fires because canopy base height is usually overrun by dense and flammable undergrowth. Crown treatments, pruning and crown thinning do not contribute in themselves to eliminating crown fire susceptibility. This study raises the need for joint surface and crown fuel treatments to ensure the effectiveness of extinction efforts. Given current budgetary constraints, fuel treatments are limited to 23.40% of the study area for mitigating possible crown fire impacts on forested area that have a future leading role in the socioeconomic development of surrounding populations.


forest fires; fuel management; conifer stands; fuel treatments

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2011202-10923

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