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Landscape Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 241–248 | Cite as

Evidence of selective burning in Sardinia (Italy): which land-cover classes do wildfires prefer?

  • Sofia Bajocco
  • Carlo Ricotta
Research Article

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to identify land-cover types where fire incidence is higher (preferred) or lower (avoided) than expected from a random null model. Fire selectivity may be characterized by the number of fires expected in a given land-cover class and by the mean surface area each fire will burn. These two components of fire pattern are usually independent of each other. For instance, fire number is usually connected with socioeconomic causes whereas fire size is largely controlled by fuel continuity. Therefore, on the basis of available fire history data for Sardinia (Italy) for the period 2000–2004 we analyzed fire selectivity of given land-cover classes keeping both variables separate from each other. The results obtained from analysis of 13,377 fires show that for most land-cover classes fire behaves selectively, with marked preference (or avoidance) in terms of both fire number and fire size. Fire number is higher than expected by chance alone in urban and agricultural areas. In contrast, in forests, grasslands, and shrublands, fire number is lower than expected. In grasslands and shrublands mean fire size is significantly larger than expected from a random null model whereas in urban areas, permanent crops, and heterogeneous agricultural areas there is significant resistance to fire spread. Finally, as concerns mean fire size, in our study area forests and arable land burn in proportion to their availability without any significant tendency toward fire preference or avoidance. The results obtained in this study contribute to fire risk assessment on the landscape scale, indicating that risk of wildfire is closely related to land cover.

Keywords

Fire number Fire selectivity Fuel fragmentation Landscape analysis Mean fire size Permutation methods 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Editor and two anonymous referees for constructive comments and suggestions on the original draft of this paper. We also thank the Corpo Forestale e di Vigilanza Ambientale of Sardinia for their assistance and willingness to share their field data and scientific advice. This study has been supported by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme through the Integrated Project “An Innovative Approach of Integrated Wildland Fire Management Regulating the Wildfire Problem by the Wise Use of Fire: Solving the Fire Paradox“. Contract nr.: FP6-018505 (Fire Paradox).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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