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Canopy bulk density and canopy base height equations for assessing crown fire hazard in Pinus radiata plantations

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Crown fires combine high rates of spread, flame lengths, and intensities, making it virtually impossible to control them by direct action and having significant impact on soils, vegetation, and wildlife habitat. For these reasons, fire managers have great interest in preventive silviculture of forested landscapes to avoid the initiation and propagation of crown fires. The minimum conditions necessary to initiate and propagate crown fires are assumed to be strongly influenced by the stand structural variables canopy bulk density (CBD) and canopy base height (CBH). However, there is a lack of quantitative information on these variables and how to estimate them. To characterize the aerial fuel layers of Pinus radiata D. Don, the vertical profiles of canopy fuel in 180 sample plots of pure and even-aged P. radiata plantations were analysed. Effective CBD and CBH were obtained from the vertical profiles, and equations relating these variables to common stand variables were fitted simultaneously. Inclusion of the fitted equations in existing dynamic growth models, together with the use of current fire behaviour and hazard prediction tools, will provide a decision support system for assessing the crown fire potential of different silvicultural alternatives for this species.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Unidad de Gestión Forestal Sostenible, Departamento de Ingeniería Agroforestal, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Escuela Politécnica Superior, Campus Universitario s/n 27002, Lugo, Spain.

Publication date: 2011-04-08

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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