Resource Communication. Temporal optimization of fuel treatment design in blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) plantations

Ana Martin, Brigite Botequim, Tiago M. Oliveira, Alan Ager, Francesco Pirotti


Aim of study: This study was conducted to support fire and forest management planning in eucalypt plantations based on economic, ecological and fire prevention criteria, with a focus on strategic prioritisation of fuel treatments over time. The central objective was to strategically locate fuel treatments to minimise losses from wildfire while meeting budget constraints and demands for wood supply for the pulp industry and conserving carbon.

Area of study: The study area was located in Serra do Socorro (Torres Vedras, Portugal, covering ~1449 ha) of predominantly Eucalyptus globulus Labill forests managedcultivated for pulpwood by The Navigator Company.

Material and methods: At each of four temporal stages (2015-2018-2021-2024) we simulated: (1) surface and canopy fuels, timber volume (m3 ha-1) and carbon storage (Mg ha-1); (2) fire behaviour characteristics, i.e. rate of spread (m min-1), and flame length (m), with FlamMap fire modelling software; (3) optimal treatment locations as determined by the Landscape Treatment Designer (LTD).

Main results: The higher pressure of fire behaviour in the earlier stages of the study period triggered most of the spatial fuel treatments within eucalypt plantations in a juvenile stage. At later stages fuel treatments also included shrublands areas. The results were consistent with observations and simulation results that show high fire hazard in juvenile eucalypt stands.

Research highlights: Forest management planning in commercial eucalypt plantations can potentially accomplish multiple objectives such as augmenting profits and sustaining ecological assets while reducing wildfire risk at landscape scale. However, limitations of simulation models including FlamMap and LTD are important to recognise in studies of long term wildfire management strategies.

Keywords: Eucalypt plantations; Fire hazard; FlamMap; fuel treatment optimisation; Landscape Treatment Designer; wildfire risk management.


Eucalyptus plantations; Fire hazard; FlamMap; fuel treatment optimization; Landscape Treatment Designer; wildfire risk management.

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2016252-09293