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Optimize landscape fuel treatment locations to create control opportunities for future fires

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Fuel treatment can improve the efficiency of controlling future catastrophic fires. Selecting optimal fuel treatment locations across a landscape is a challenging strategic planning problem in wildland fire management. This research develops a new fuel treatment optimization model by extending a fire suppression model to simultaneously consider many future fires. Fire is ignited from every grid cell in a landscape and modeled for various durations in a mixed integer programming model. Fuel treatment in a cell decreases its fire intensity and makes future fire control effective in it. This model allocates fuel treatments to minimize the total landscape future fire loss. It was first tested on several artificial landscapes for model validation. Results show that it tends to allocate fuel treatments in contiguous areas following regular and intuitive spatial patterns. Spatial fuel treatment layouts vary according to the change of fire ignition probability distribution, the distribution of value to be protected from fire, and fire duration assumptions. Trade-off between protecting different parts of a landscape is a major driver in designing fuel treatment layouts. A test case in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks demonstrates how this model assembles spatial information and helps study the effects of fuel treatments in a heterogeneous landscape. This model allows managers to assemble information from many possible future fires to make informative strategic-level fuel treatment decisions. A potential model extension and the limitations of this model are also discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-06-08

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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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