Biogeographical Modelling

Prof. Dr. Björn Reineking

Reineking, B; Weibel, P; Conedera, M; Bugmann, H: Environmental determinants of lightning- v. human-induced forest fire ignitions differ in a temperate mountain region of Switzerland, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 19, 541–557 (2010)
Key words: fire weather, forest composition, human influence, logistic regression, Ticino
Understanding the environmental and human determinants of forest fire ignitions is crucial for landscape management. In this study, we consider lightning- and human-induced fires separately and evaluate the relative importance of weather, forest composition and human activities on the occurrence of forest fire ignitions in the most fire-prone region of Switzerland, the Canton Ticino. Independent variables included 14 drought and fire weather indices, forest composition and human influences. Logistic regression models were used to relate these independent variables to records of forest fires over a 37-year period (1969–2005). We found large differences in the importance of environmental and human controls on forest fire ignitions between lightning- and human-induced events: lightning-induced fires occurred in a small range of weather conditions well captured by the Duff Moisture Code from the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System and the LandClim Drought Index, and with negligible influence of distance to human infrastructure, whereas human-induced fires occurred in a wider range of weather conditions well captured by the Angstroem and the Fosberg Fire Weather Index, mainly in deciduous forests, and strongly depending on proximity to human infrastructure. We conclude that the suitability of fire indices can vary dramatically between ignition sources, suggesting that some of these indices are useful within certain regions and fire types only. The ignition source is an important factor that needs to be taken into account by fire managers and when developing models of forest fire occurrence.

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