Dynamic Evaluation of Early Silvicultural Treatments for Wildfire Prevention

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Piqué i Nicolau, Míriam
González-Olabarria, José Ramón
Busquets Olivé, Eduard
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cc-by, (c) Piqué et al., 2022
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Thinning young forest stands is a common practice to improve the future development of the remaining trees and enhance their resistance to abiotic and biotic disturbances. The objective of this study was to consider the effectiveness of precommercial thinning, over time, implemented on Pinus halepensis (Aleppo pine) thickets, regarding fuel evolution and potential fire behavior. For this purpose, we established 44 plots on untreated and thinned Aleppo pine stands, measured all of the relevant fuel characteristics and simulated fire behavior under average and extreme fire weather scenarios. The plots were at different stages of fuel evolution (0.5 to 10 years since treatment, plus untreated stands), so that the evolution of the variables defining forest structure and the amount and distribution of surface fuels could be captured. The results show that precommercial thinning, when accompanied with pruning and surface fuel management, had a clear impact on fire behavior and on the potential of fire crowning during the first two to four years after the treatment. After that initial period, the buildup of understory vegetation minimized treatment effectiveness in mitigating potential fire behavior. In general, it can be stated that precommercial thinning has a positive impact on fire mitigation, but the impact that opening the tree canopy has on ground vegetation development must be considered in order to plan more efficient management strategies.
Journal or Serie
Forests, 2022, vol. 13, núm. 6, p. 858