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Fire Severity and Vegetation Recovery on Mine Site Rehabilitation Using WorldView-3 Imagery

1
Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
2
Remote Sensing Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 April 2018 / Revised: 15 June 2018 / Accepted: 2 July 2018 / Published: 3 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Fire and Its Impact on Land and Atmosphere)
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Abstract

As open-cut coal mines progress towards closure, mining companies have an obligation to provide certainty to stakeholders that their rehabilitated landscapes have the capacity to withstand future disturbance impacts such as fire and drought. This paper describes the assessment of fire severity and recovery using WorldView-3 spectral indices following an experimental fire in a 19- to 21-year old coal mine rehabilitation in semi-arid Central Queensland, Australia. In a highly heterogeneous reconstructed environment, the differenced Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (dNDVI) outperformed the differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) with an overall map accuracy of 65% and 58%, respectively. The combination of red and near infra-red multispectral bands proved more effective at classifying severity compared with the shortwave infra-red, particularly when pre-fire imagery was dominated by highly cured grasses (>70%) and post-fire imagery contained a high coverage of residual ash. Recovery trends using spectral indices demonstrate the trajectory towards vegetation recovery, with 62% of the burnt site demonstrating high regrowth in the first two years following fire. This is supported by in situ recovery trends of understory biomass suggesting that under the study conditions, the rehabilitated site has the capacity to withstand impacts from a wildfire and recover to pre-fire levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: pasture; fire exclusion; satellite; reclamation; resilience; mine relinquishment; Australia; remote sensing pasture; fire exclusion; satellite; reclamation; resilience; mine relinquishment; Australia; remote sensing
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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McKenna, P.; Phinn, S.; Erskine, P.D. Fire Severity and Vegetation Recovery on Mine Site Rehabilitation Using WorldView-3 Imagery. Fire 2018, 1, 22.

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