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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Apr 15;621:872-885. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.297. Epub 2017 Dec 18.

Optimizing prescribed fire allocation for managing fire risk in central Catalonia.

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Agriculture and Forest Engineering Department (EAGROF), University of Lleida, Alcalde Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain. Electronic address:
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, 3160 NE 3(rd) Street, Prineville, OR 97754, USA.
National Research Council, Institute of Biometeorology (CNR-IBIMET), Regione Baldinca, 07100 Sassari, Italy; Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC), IAFES Division, Via Enrico De Nicola 9, 07100 Sassari, Italy.
Oregon State University, College of Forestry, Forest Ecosystems & Society, 321 Richardson Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
Agriculture and Forest Engineering Department (EAGROF), University of Lleida, Alcalde Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain; Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia, Carretera de Sant Llorenç de Morunys km 2, Solsona 25280, Catalonia, Spain.


We used spatial optimization to allocate and prioritize prescribed fire treatments in the fire-prone Bages County, central Catalonia (northeastern Spain). The goal of this study was to identify suitable strategic locations on forest lands for fuel treatments in order to: 1) disrupt major fire movements, 2) reduce ember emissions, and 3) reduce the likelihood of large fires burning into residential communities. We first modeled fire spread, hazard and exposure metrics under historical extreme fire weather conditions, including node influence grid for surface fire pathways, crown fraction burned and fire transmission to residential structures. Then, we performed an optimization analysis on individual planning areas to identify production possibility frontiers for addressing fire exposure and explore alternative prescribed fire treatment configurations. The results revealed strong trade-offs among different fire exposure metrics, showed treatment mosaics that optimize the allocation of prescribed fire, and identified specific opportunities to achieve multiple objectives. Our methods can contribute to improving the efficiency of prescribed fire treatment investments and wildfire management programs aimed at creating fire resilient ecosystems, facilitating safe and efficient fire suppression, and safeguarding rural communities from catastrophic wildfires. The analysis framework can be used to optimally allocate prescribed fire in other fire-prone areas within the Mediterranean region and elsewhere.


Fire modeling; Mediterranean areas; Prescribed fires; Production possibility frontiers; Treatment optimization

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