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Role of Foliar Moisture Content in the Silvicultural Management of Forest Fuels

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In combination with measured stand data and assumed environmental conditions, reasonable estimates of foliar moisture content (FMC) are necessary to determine and justify silvicultural targets for canopy fuels management strategies. FMC often is overlooked in fuels planning, with default values substituting for more precise estimates, but its role is operationally significant in the selection of silvicultural targets even at modest surface fire intensities. This article discusses the role of FMC in canopy ignition and summarizes the results of 11 studies on the FMC values and trends for 16 North American conifers. FMC values ranged from 73 to 480% but varied by species, foliage age, and season. The information presented here will be helpful to managers engaging in canopy fuels planning with the use of popular fire behavior and fuels management software (e.g., NEXUS, Fuels Management Analyst, and the Forest Vegetation Simulator's Fire and Fuels Extension).

Keywords: Stand structure; canopy fuels; crown fire; wildfire hazard

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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