Current and future estimates for the fire frequency and the fire rotation period in the main woodland types of peninsular Spain: a case-study approach

Antonio Vázquez, José M. Climent, Luis Casais, José R. Quintana


Aim of study. Fire regimes are frequently dynamic and change as a function of the interactions between the three main fire drivers: fuels, ignitions and climatic conditions. We characterized the recent period (1974-2005) and performed estimates for the future fire regime

Area of study. We have considered five pine and another four woodland types by means of the analyses of 100 reference areas in peninsular Spain.

Material and methods. The estimates of the expected alterations in fire frequency and the fire rotation period were based on models previously developed for the climatic scenarios SRES A2 and B2.

Main results. The results point to the large variability in fire frequency and rotation periods between the woodland types as defined, and also among the reference areas delimited for each of them. Fire frequencies will increase for all woodland types while very relevant shortenings of the fire rotation periods are expected. For the 32 yr period analysed, rotation periods longer than 500 yr were obtained in 54% of the reference areas while this percentage would decrease to 31% in the B2 and to 29% in the A2 climatic scenario. In the most affected woodland type, P. pinaster, from a median rotation period of 83 yr it would decrease to 26 yr in the B2 and to 20 yr in the A2 climatic scenario.

Research highlights. We conclude that the predicted increases in fire activity will have adverse effects on some of the main Spanish woodland types due to the expected future disruptions in the fire regime.  

Keywords: Forest fires; fire regime; fire frequency; fire rotation period; climatic change.

Abbreviations used: SRES: Special Report on Emissions Scenarios; IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; RA: Reference Areas.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2015242-06454