Land cover fire proneness in Europe

Mario Gonzalez Pereira, Jose Aranha, Malik Amraoui


Aim of study: This study aims to identify and characterize the spatial and temporal evolution of the types of vegetation that are most affected by forest fires in Europe. The characterization of the fuels is an important issue of the fire regime in each specific ecosystem while, on the other hand, fire is an important disturbance for global vegetation dynamics.

Area of study: Southern European countries: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

Material and Methods: Corine Land Cover maps for 2000 and 2006 (CLC2000, CLC2006) and burned area (BA) perimeters, from 2000 to 2013 in Europe are combined to access the spatial and temporal evolution of the types of vegetation that are most affected by wild fires using descriptive statistics and Geographical Information System (GIS) techniques.

Main results: The spatial and temporal distribution of BA perimeters, vegetation and burnt vegetation by wild fires was performed and different statistics were obtained for Mediterranean and entire Europe, confirming the usefulness of the proposed land cover system. A fire proneness index is proposed to assess the fire selectivity of land cover classes. The index allowed to quantify and to compare the propensity of vegetation classes and countries to fire.

Research highlights: The usefulness and efficiency of the land cover classification scheme and fire proneness index. The differences between northern Europe and southern Europe and among the Mediterranean region in what concerns to vegetation cover, fire incidence, area burnt in land cover classes and fire proneness between classes for the different countries.

Keywords: Fire proneness; Mixed forests; Land cover/land use; Fire regime; Europe; GIS; Corine land cover. 

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2014233-06115