Mapping Local Effects of Forest Properties on Fire Risk across Canada.
Pierre Bernier, Sylvie Gauthier, Pierre-Olivier Jean, Francis Manka, Yan Boulanger, André Beaudoin, Luc Guidon.
Fire is a dominant mechanism of forest renewal in most of Canada’s forests and its activity is predicted to increase over the coming decades. Individual fire events have been considered to be non-selective with regards to forest properties, but evidence now suggests otherwise. Our objective was therefore to quantify the effect of forest properties on fire selectivity or avoidance, evaluate the stability of these effects across varying burn rates, and use these results to map local fire risk across the forests of Canada. We used Canada-wide MODIS-based maps of annual fires and of forest properties to identify burned and unburned pixels for the 2002–2011 period and to bin them into classes of forest composition (% conifer and broadleaved deciduous), above-ground tree biomass and stand age. Logistic binomial regressions were then used to quantify fire selectivity by forest properties classes and by zones of homogeneous fire regime (HFR). Results suggest that fire exhibits a strong selectivity for conifer stands, but an even stronger avoidance of broadleaved stands. In terms of age classes, fire also shows a strong avoidance for young (0 to 29 year) stands. The large differences among regional burn rates do not significantly alter the overall preference and avoidance ratings. Finally, we combined these results on relative burn preference with regional burn rates to map local fire risks across Canada.