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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 112, Issue 1–3, pp 231–253 | Cite as

Long Term Fire Scar Monitoring with Remote Sensing in Northern Namibia: Relations Between Fire Frequency, Rainfall, Land Cover, Fire Management and Trees

  • Alex VerlindenEmail author
  • Risto Laamanen
Article

Abstract

A cost-effective method was developed to map fire scars on Quicklooks of Landat TM imagery. The method was compared with a full resolution Landsat image using visual interpretation and supervised classification using the Maximum Likelihood procedure, resulting in a high degree of agreement between methods. A long time series of fire scars was developed using all available Landsat Quicklooks between 1989 and 2001 for an area of 63000 sq km in north-east Namibia.

Between 27 and 51% of the study area burned annually, while only 10% of the area did not burn between 1989 and 2001. Not-burned areas were mainly settled areas and permanent wetlands. 33% of the area burned between 5 and 7 times during the 13 years indicating a high frequency overall. Rainfall and livestock had little influence on burned areas.

In 1996 formal fire management started in a portion of the study area consisting of building firebreaks and holding awareness programs. A comparison of burned areas before and after the intervention started allowed evaluating its effectiveness. The area where the formal fire management program was undertaken showed a significant decrease in burned area. It is suggested that awareness campaigns rather than firebreaks contributed to this decrease.

Selected tree population data were compared with fire frequencies. Differences in tree occurrence, regeneration, and stem diameter distributions between low and high fire frequencies could be detected and explained with known responses of the species to fire. This suggests that the observed time series is representative of a long-term fire regime in the area.

Keywords

fire forestry GIS monitoring Namibia remote sensing 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Desert Research Foundation of NamibiaWindhoekNamibia
  2. 2.Directorate of ForestryNational Remote Sensing Center, Namibia-Finland Forestry ProgramWindhoekNamibia
  3. 3.Institute of Nature ConservationBrusselsBelgium

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