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Wildfire Detection and Post-fire Diversity of Woody Plants in Sub-Mediterranean Deciduous Forests: a case study in Majella National Park, Italy

Kumssa, Diriba Bekere (2010) Wildfire Detection and Post-fire Diversity of Woody Plants in Sub-Mediterranean Deciduous Forests: a case study in Majella National Park, Italy.

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Abstract:From 23 – 25 July 2007 wildfires occurred in Majella National Park (MNP) and other areas in Italy. Among others, the fire affected beech, black pine, Hop Hornbeam and Downy Oak forests. In the north western part of MNP burned and benchmark Hop Hornbeam and Downy Oak forests were assessed to see whether fire in sub-Mediterranean deciduous forest patches can be detected and accurately mapped. Secondly, woody plant diversity two years after the fire was assessed by comparing woody plant community composition in burned and benchmark Hop Hornbeam and Downy Oak forests. Assessment of wildfire detection in Hop Hornbeam and Downy Oak forests was conducted using MSG-SEVIRI and Aqua/Terra-MODIS active fire products. Fire scar mapping was undertaken by using ALOS-AVNIR-2 and Terra-ASTER imageries. Field sampling for ground truthing and woody plant diversity assessment was done from 07 to 30 September 2009. Both MSG-SEVIRI and Aqua/Terra-MODIS had detected a few active fire hotspots with the probability of being in the Hop Hornbeam forest but not in the Downy Oak forest considering the cell size. An overall accuracy of 73.33% and 71.11% with an overall kappa of 0.60 and 0.57 was obtained by classifying Terra- ASTER and ALOS-AVNIR-2 images respectively. Alpha diversity of the burned and benchmark forests showed significant differences. Wildfire in Hop Hornbeam forest is detected by MSG-SEVIRI and Aqua/Terra- MODIS, but the fire in Downy Oak forest is not detected. The patchiness of the forests coupled with the low spatial resolution of the satellites makes it difficult to be conclusive. Hence, fire detection using low resolution satellite images and the fire products derived from those images should be utilized at a landscape level rather than at community scale that are patchy and occupy small area. Field observation of the fire scar in Hop Hornbeam and Downy Oak forests indicate that the fire burned the forest litter on the ground surface. Seedlings, saplings and small trees and shrubs with thin bark were killed by the fire. Burned vulnerable trees and shrubs successfully regenerated via sprouts from the base of the stem. Even though Hop Hornbeam and Downy Oak forests are showing a clear sign of recovery after the fire event, there exists significant difference between the burned and benchmark forests. Hence, long term monitoring of the fire affected forests by establishing permanent plots is recommended. Beside its ecological significance, MNP is inhabited by humans. Hence, designing a fire prevention, suppression and post fire restoration mechanism is crucial both from human and ecological perspectives.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
Link to this item:https://purl.utwente.nl/essays/92487
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