Assessing fire potential in a Brazilian savanna nature reserve

Mistry, Jayalaxshmi and Berardi, Andrea (2005). Assessing fire potential in a Brazilian savanna nature reserve. Biotropica, 37(3) pp. 439–451.



Fire is a natural ecological force in the cerrado. However, the increasing use of fire by people means that conservation areas are subject to frequent burns. The aim of this study was to assess the potential of fire in an ecological reserve in the Brazilian savannas (cerrado) of central Brazil. Data about vegetation type, topography, climate, and fuel characteristics were input into the fire prediction models BEHAVE and FARSITE to simulate fire behavior during different weather conditions and from different entry points into the conservation area. The results indicated that there is a higher probability of fire entry from particular border regions as a result of the fuel characteristics. The presence of invasive grasses, such as Melinis minutiflora, within parts of the reserve also significantly affected the pattern of fire spread. Wind speed greatly increased the spread and extent of fire. The study showed that significant improvements in modeling fire behavior in savannas still need to be made. This study was the initial stage in the development of a decision support system for fire management in the cerrado.

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