Fire-severity mitigation by prescribed burning assessed from fire-treatment encounters in maritime pine stands

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Espinosa, J.; Palheiro, P.; Loureiro, C.; Ascoli, D.; Esposito, A.; Fernandes, P.M. (2019) - Fire-severity mitigation by prescribed burning assessed from fire-treatment encounters in maritime pine stands - Canadian Journal of Forest Research

Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) stands are prone to high-intensity fire. Fuel treatments lessen potential fire behaviour and severity, but evidence of their effectiveness when tested by wildfire is extremely scarce in Europe. We assess the longevity of prescribed burning in maritime pine plantations in decreasing fire severity. Heights of crown scorch and stem-bark char were measured in treated and untreated adjacent areas after fire-treatment encounters in Portugal, Italy, and Australia. Treatment effect was quantified as the log-transformed ratio between prescribed-burned and untreated fire-severity data. Linear mixed modelling indicated that for typical wildfire conditions, the effect of prescribed burning in crown scorch height lasts 2–6 years. The persistence of prescribed burning benefits is higher for fire control operations than for fire-severity mitigation. Regression tree analysis of data from one wildfire highlighted the roles of wind direction, topography, and stand height in explaining variability in fire severity. A 4-year interval between prescribed burning treatments in maritime pine stands is recommended in general, depending on site quality and stand age and structure. Improved fuel-consumption prescriptions and monitoring procedures are advisable to foster prescribed-burning effectiveness and its evaluation.

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0045-5067

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