Predicting Sustained Fire Spread in Tasmanian Native Grasslands
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- Leonard, S. Environmental Management (2009) 44: 430. doi:10.1007/s00267-009-9340-6
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Fire is widely used in conservation management of native grasslands. Burning is often carried out under conditions that are marginal for sustained fire spread, and therefore it would be useful to be able to predict fire sustainability. There is currently no model allowing such prediction in temperate grasslands. This study aims to identify the environmental variables that determine whether fires will sustain in native grasslands in Tasmania, Australia, and develop a model for predicting fire sustainability in this vegetation. Fuel characteristics and weather conditions were recorded for 111 test fires. Logistic regression modeling identified dead fuel moisture content, fuel load, and percentage dead fuel as predictors of fire sustainability. Classification tree modeling identified dead fuel moisture and fuel load threshold values for sustaining fires. There was also evidence indicating a percentage dead fuel threshold. The logistic regression model and a model combining the results of the classification tree and the percentage dead fuel threshold accurately predicted the outcomes of a small set of experimental fires. These models are likely to have utility in predicting fire sustainability in Tasmanian grasslands and are also likely to be applicable to similar grasslands elsewhere.