Increased fire hazard in human-modified wetlands in Southeast Asia
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Vast areas of wetlands in Southeast Asia are undergoing a transformation process to human-modified ecosystems. Expansion of agricultural cropland and forest plantations changes the landscape of wetlands. Here we present observation-based modelling evidence of increased fire hazard due to canalization in tropical wetland ecosystems. Two wetland conditions were tested in South Sumatra, Indonesia, natural drainage and canal drainage, using a hydrological model and a drought-fire index (modified Keetch–Byram index). Our results show that canalization has amplified fire susceptibility by 4.5 times. Canal drainage triggers the fire season to start earlier than under natural wetland conditions, indicating that the canal water level regime is a key variable controlling fire hazard. Furthermore, the findings derived from the modelling experiment have practical relevance for public and private sectors, as well as for water managers and policy makers, who deal with canalization of tropical wetlands, and suggest that improved water management can reduce fire susceptibility.
KeywordsCanalization Canal water level Fire hazard SWAP Water management
This present study was completed with support of the DIKTI Scholarship (Contract No: 4115/E4.4/K/2013) and the SPIN-JRP-29 project Granted by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). It contributes to WIMEK-SENSE and the UNESCO IHP-VIII programme FRIEND-Water.
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