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

TitleEvidence of selective burning in Sardinia (Italy): which land-cover classes do wildfires prefer?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsBajocco, S., & Ricotta C.
JournalLandscape Ecology
Pagination241 - 248
Date Published2007///
Keywordsanalysis á, Fire number, fire number á fire, Fire selectivity, Fuel fragmentation, fuel fragmentation á landscape, Landscape analysis, mean fire size á, Mean fire size, Permutation methods, selectivity á

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.