Large wildland fires in three diverse regions in Spain from 1978 to 2010.

A. Cardil Forradellas, D. Molina Terrén


Aim of study: Large wildland fires (LWF) are major disturbance processes affecting many ecosystems each year. In last decades, socio-economic changes have contributed to major changes in land uses. This study assess trends in number, burned area and average size of large wildfires (> 100 ha) from 1978 to 2010 in Spain.

Area of study: This work analyzes three clearly different regions of Spain (Mediterranean coast, MC, Mediterranean Interior, MI, Northwestern Spain, NW).

Material and Methods: We studied historical wildland fire data from Spain’s EGIF database (General Statistics on Wildland Fires). We selected only wildland fires larger than 100 ha. All LWF were analyzed to test trends in number of fires, burned area and mean fire size.

Main results: The number of LWF decreased in all regions but the burned area only decreased in MC and NW regions. However, both the number of LWF and the burned area did not decrease after 1995 in any region. The average size of LWF did not change in any of the three regions. Fires larger than 500 ha were very significant due to the high percentage of area burned in relation to the total area burned by fires larger than 100 ha (79.3 % in MC, 63.9 % in MI, and 35.7% in NW).

Research highlights: After 1995, the number of LWF and burned area did not decrease. Additional actions are required including learned lessons from past LWF spread, and better trained fire suppression workers and more fuel management.

Keywords: large wildland fires; trends; forest management; Spain.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2013223-03899