Special Issue "Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present"

A special issue of Fire (ISSN 2571-6255).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Julie C. Aleman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Département de Géographie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada
Interests: grassland and savanna ecology and conservation; tropical ecology and biogeography (savanna and forest distribution); spatial and temporal ecology; fire and disturbance ecology; climate and land-use changes
Dr. Olivier Blarquez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Département de Géographie, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada
Interests: paleoecology; biodiversity; fires
Dr. Boris Vannière
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CNRS, Chrono-environnement UMR 6249, MSHE USR 3124, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, F-25000 Besançon, France
Interests: paleoecology; paleohydrology; land cover and land use changes, paleofire regime; fire ecology and fire practices

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human–fire interactions have, in many parts of the world, a long-lasting and pervasive influence on natural ecosystems. The naturalness of those ecosystems is thus questioned until evidence of human action on fire regimes have been unequivocally proven by solid scientific techniques. Human actions on long-term fire regimes may include active fire ignition, suppression, and all vegetation cover modifications that impact the quality, quantity or connectivity of fuel in the landscape. These actions also include the modifications of fire ignition probabilities via the alteration of the global carbon cycle and climate.

These above-mentioned influences are highly dependant on the spatial and temporal scales that are studied, and, more importantly, depend on societies and their land-use practices. Different disciplines can bring insights into the long-term interactions of fire and human, such as (paleo)-ecology, archaeology, biogeography, modelling and all the fire history related sciences. A better understanding of land uses with fire and their influences on long-term ecosystems dynamics will help to assess whether current and future conditions will diverge from previously experienced ecosystem states. The implications of those finding are indeed important for ecosystem management in a context of mitigation of biodiversity loss, promotion of ecosystem resilience to global change and preservation of ecosystem functions and services, all of which being potentially concerned by worldwide fire occurrences.

In this Special Issue, we seek articles dealing with human modification of fire regimes, human fire management and practices, and the various processes associated with this relationship at temporal scales ranging from millennia to decades. Articles dealing with aboriginal fire uses, assessment of long-term influence of different societies on fire regimes and how this knowledge could be used for restoration, conservation or management of ecosystems are highly welcome.

Dr. Julie C. Aleman
Dr. Olivier Blarquez
Dr. Boris Vannière
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Fire is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Land-Cover Dependent Relationships between Fire and Soil Moisture
Fire 2019, 2(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2040055 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1316
Abstract
For this study, we characterized the dependence of fire counts (FCs) on soil moisture (SM) at global and sub-global scales using 15 years of remote sensing data. We argue that this mathematical relationship serves as an effective way to predict fire because it [...] Read more.
For this study, we characterized the dependence of fire counts (FCs) on soil moisture (SM) at global and sub-global scales using 15 years of remote sensing data. We argue that this mathematical relationship serves as an effective way to predict fire because it is a proxy for the semi-quantitative fire–productivity relationship that describes the tradeoff between fuel availability and climate as constraints on fire activity. We partitioned the globe into land-use and land-cover (LULC) categories of forest, grass, cropland, and pasture to investigate how the fire–soil moisture (fire–SM) behavior varies as a function of LULC. We also partitioned the globe into four broadly defined biomes (Boreal, Grassland-Savanna, Temperate, and Tropical) to study the dependence of fire–SM behavior on LULC across those biomes. The forest and grass LULC fire–SM curves are qualitatively similar to the fire–productivity relationship with a peak in fire activity at intermediate SM, a steep decline in fire activity at low SM (productivity constraint), and gradual decline as SM increases (climate constraint), but our analysis highlights how forests and grasses differ across biomes as well. Pasture and cropland LULC are a distinctly human use of the landscape, and fires detected on those LULC types include intentional fires. Cropland fire–SM curves are similar to those for grass LULC, but pasture fires are evident at higher SM values than other LULC. This suggests a departure from the expected climate constraint when burning is happening at non-optimal flammability conditions. Using over a decade of remote sensing data, our results show that quantifying fires relative to a single physical climate variable (soil moisture) is possible on both cultivated and uncultivated landscapes. Linking fire to observable soil moisture conditions for different land-cover types has important applications in fire management and fire modeling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
The Iberian Peninsula’s Burning Heart—Long-Term Fire History in the Toledo Mountains (Central Spain)
Fire 2019, 2(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2040054 - 16 Oct 2019
Viewed by 1313
Abstract
Long-term fire ecology can help to better understand the major role played by fire in driving vegetation composition and structure over decadal to millennial timescales, along with climate change and human agency, especially in fire-prone areas such as the Mediterranean basin. Investigating past [...] Read more.
Long-term fire ecology can help to better understand the major role played by fire in driving vegetation composition and structure over decadal to millennial timescales, along with climate change and human agency, especially in fire-prone areas such as the Mediterranean basin. Investigating past ecosystem dynamics in response to changing fire activity, climate, and land use, and how these landscape drivers interact in the long-term is needed for efficient nature management, protection, and restoration. The Toledo Mountains of central Spain are a mid-elevation mountain complex with scarce current anthropic intervention located on the westernmost edge of the Mediterranean basin. These features provide a perfect setting to study patterns of late Holocene fire activity and landscape transformation. Here, we have combined macroscopic charcoal analysis with palynological data in three peat sequences (El Perro, Brezoso, and Viñuelas mires) to reconstruct fire regimes during recent millennia and their linkages to changes in vegetation, land use, and climatic conditions. During a first phase (5000–3000 cal. BP) characterized by mixed oak woodlands and low anthropogenic impact, climate exerted an evident influence over fire regimes. Later, the data show two phases of increasing human influence dated at 3000–500 cal. BP and 500 cal. BP–present, which translated into significant changes in fire regimes increasingly driven by human activity. These results contribute to prove how fire regimes have changed along with human societies, being more related to land use and less dependent on climatic cycles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Half-Century Changes in LULC and Fire in Two Iberian Inner Mountain Areas
Fire 2019, 2(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2030045 - 08 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1570
Abstract
Wildfires in the Iberian Peninsula were large and frequent in the second half of the 20th century. Land use and land cover (LULC) also changed greatly. Our aim was to understand the relationship between LULC and fire in the western and eastern ends [...] Read more.
Wildfires in the Iberian Peninsula were large and frequent in the second half of the 20th century. Land use and land cover (LULC) also changed greatly. Our aim was to understand the relationship between LULC and fire in the western and eastern ends of the Iberian Central Mountain System. We compared two case study landscapes, the Estrela massif and the Ayllón massif, which are biophysically similar but with different social-ecological contexts. In both, fires were in general more likely in shrublands and pastures than in forests. Shrublands replaced forests after fires. Contrasting LULC in the two massifs, particularly pastures, likely explained the differences in fire occurrence, and reflected different regional land use policies and history. Fire here is a social-ecological system, influenced by specific LULC and with implications from landscape to regional scales. Understanding how LULC changes interact with fire is powerful for improving landscape and regional planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Have Historical Land Use/Land Cover Changes Triggered a Fire Regime Shift in Central Spain?
Fire 2019, 2(3), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2030044 - 03 Aug 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2007
Abstract
Fire is one of the main disturbance factors shaping the landscape, and landscape is a key driver of fire behavior. Considering the role played by land use and land cover (LULC) changes as the main driver of landscape dynamics, the aim of this [...] Read more.
Fire is one of the main disturbance factors shaping the landscape, and landscape is a key driver of fire behavior. Considering the role played by land use and land cover (LULC) changes as the main driver of landscape dynamics, the aim of this study was to calculate and analyze (i) the real impact of fire on LULC changes and (ii) how these LULC changes were influencing the fire regime. We used methods of historical geography and socio-spatial systemic analysis for reconstructing and assessing the LULC change and fire history in six case studies in the Central Mountain System (Spain) from archival documentary sources and historical cartography. The main result is an accurate dataset of fire records from 1497 to 2013 and a set of LULC maps for three time points (1890s–1930s, 1956–1957, and the 2000s). We have shown the nonlinear evolution of the fire regime and the importance of the local scale when assessing the interaction of landscape dynamics and fire regime variation. Our findings suggest that LULC trends have been the main influencing factor of fire regime variation in Central Spain since the mid-19th century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Is Anthropogenic Pyrodiversity Invisible in Paleofire Records?
Fire 2019, 2(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2030042 - 18 Jul 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2554
Abstract
Paleofire studies frequently discount the impact of human activities in past fire regimes. Globally, we know that a common pattern of anthropogenic burning regimes is to burn many small patches at high frequency, thereby generating landscape heterogeneity. Is this type of anthropogenic pyrodiversity [...] Read more.
Paleofire studies frequently discount the impact of human activities in past fire regimes. Globally, we know that a common pattern of anthropogenic burning regimes is to burn many small patches at high frequency, thereby generating landscape heterogeneity. Is this type of anthropogenic pyrodiversity necessarily obscured in paleofire records because of fundamental limitations of those records? We evaluate this with a cellular automata model designed to replicate different fire regimes with identical fire rotations but different fire frequencies and patchiness. Our results indicate that high frequency patch burning can be identified in tree-ring records at relatively modest sampling intensities. However, standard methods that filter out fires represented by few trees systematically biases the records against patch burning. In simulated fire regime shifts, fading records, sample size, and the contrast between the shifted fire regimes all interact to make statistical identification of regime shifts challenging without other information. Recent studies indicate that integration of information from history, archaeology, or anthropology and paleofire data generate the most reliable inferences of anthropogenic patch burning and fire regime changes associated with cultural changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Sharing Multiple Perspectives on Burning: Towards a Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Policy in Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana
Fire 2019, 2(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2030039 - 05 Jul 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3578
Abstract
Although there is convincing scientific research for the role of Indigenous fire practices in sustainable land management, Indigenous peoples’ involvement in policy-making is limited. This paper presents findings from a fire management workshop where experiences and perspectives were shared among 60 academic, government, [...] Read more.
Although there is convincing scientific research for the role of Indigenous fire practices in sustainable land management, Indigenous peoples’ involvement in policy-making is limited. This paper presents findings from a fire management workshop where experiences and perspectives were shared among 60 academic, government, and Indigenous representatives from 27 organizations from Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. The data, in the form of small group discussions, participatory drawings, whole group reflections, and videos, showed that although there was general acceptance about the central role of fire in traditional Indigenous livelihoods and its importance for protecting the biological and cultural diversity of ecosystems, there were also tensions around the past imposition of a dominant fire exclusion discourse of governmental institutions in Indigenous territories. Overcoming the gaps derived from different experiences and historical worldviews, and building mutual trust and respect were the main challenges when integrating multiple perspectives through the “intercultural interface” of institutions working on environmental management and governance. The elaboration of a common declaration and next steps in the framework of a “Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Network”, created during the workshop to enhance a sustainable fire policy, revealed the conviction of working together for Indigenous fire management legitimization and strengthening from all participants of the three countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Pre-Columbian Fire Management Linked to Refractory Black Carbon Emissions in the Amazon
Fire 2019, 2(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2020031 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2216
Abstract
Anthropogenic climate change—combined with increased human-caused ignitions—is leading to increased wildfire frequency, carbon dioxide emissions, and refractory black carbon (rBC) aerosol emissions. This is particularly evident in the Amazon rainforest, where fire activity has been complicated by the synchronicity of natural and anthropogenic [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic climate change—combined with increased human-caused ignitions—is leading to increased wildfire frequency, carbon dioxide emissions, and refractory black carbon (rBC) aerosol emissions. This is particularly evident in the Amazon rainforest, where fire activity has been complicated by the synchronicity of natural and anthropogenic drivers of ecological change, coupled with spatial and temporal heterogeneity in past and present land use. One approach to elucidating these factors is through long-term regional fire histories. Using a novel method for rBC determinations, we measured an approximately 3500-year sediment core record from Lake Caranã in the eastern Amazon for rBC influx, a proxy of biomass burning and fossil fuel combustion. Through comparisons with previously published records from Lake Caranã and regional evidence, we distinguished between local and regional rBC emission sources demonstrating increased local emissions of rBC from ~1250 to 500 calendar years before present (cal yr BP), coinciding with increased local-scale fire management during the apex of pre-Columbian activity. This was followed by a regional decline in biomass burning coincident with European contact, pre-Columbian population decline, and regional fire suppression associated with the rubber boom (1850–1910 CE), supporting the minimal influence of climate on regional burning at this time. During the past century, rBC influx has rapidly increased. Our results can serve to validate rBC modeling results, aiding with future predictions of rBC emissions and associated impacts to the climate system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
A Global Analysis of Hunter-Gatherers, Broadcast Fire Use, and Lightning-Fire-Prone Landscapes
Fire 2018, 1(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire1030041 - 25 Oct 2018
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2494
Abstract
We examined the relationships between lightning-fire-prone environments, socioeconomic metrics, and documented use of broadcast fire by small-scale hunter-gatherer societies. Our approach seeks to re-assess human-fire dynamics in biomes that are susceptible to lightning-triggered fires. We quantify global lightning-fire-prone environments using mean monthly lightning [...] Read more.
We examined the relationships between lightning-fire-prone environments, socioeconomic metrics, and documented use of broadcast fire by small-scale hunter-gatherer societies. Our approach seeks to re-assess human-fire dynamics in biomes that are susceptible to lightning-triggered fires. We quantify global lightning-fire-prone environments using mean monthly lightning and climatological flammability, and then compare how well those environments and socioeconomic variables (population density, mobility, and subsistence type) serve as predictors of observed broadcast fire use from the ethnographic data. We use a logistic model for all vegetated, forested, and unforested biomes. Our global analysis of human-fire-landscape interaction in three hundred and thirty-nine hunter-gatherer groups demonstrates that lightning-fire-prone environments strongly predict for hunter-gatherer fire use. While we do not maintain that lightning-fire-prone environments determine the use of fire by small societies, they certainly appear to invite its use. Our results further suggest that discounting or ignoring human agency contradicts empirical evidence that hunter-gatherers used fire even in locations where lightning could explain the presence of fire. Paleoecological research on fire and hypothesis testing using global fire modeling should consider insights from human ecology in the interpretation of data and results. More broadly, our results suggest that small-scale societies can provide insight into sustainable fire management in lightning-fire-prone landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Slash-and-Burn Practices Decrease Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Abundance in Soil and the Roots of Didierea madagascariensis in the Dry Tropical Forest of Madagascar
Fire 2018, 1(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire1030037 - 01 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2168
Abstract
Deforestation and the use of fire to clear land have drastic effects on ecosystem functioning and compromise essential ecosystem services, especially in low-income tropical countries such as Madagascar. We evaluated the effects of local slash-and-burn practices on soil nutrients and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) [...] Read more.
Deforestation and the use of fire to clear land have drastic effects on ecosystem functioning and compromise essential ecosystem services, especially in low-income tropical countries such as Madagascar. We evaluated the effects of local slash-and-burn practices on soil nutrients and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi abundance in a southwestern Madagascar forest. Nine sampling plot pairs were established along the border of a reserve within the Fiherenana–Manombo (pk-32) complex, where soil and seedling root samples of the endemic tree Didierea madagascariensis were taken. We analysed soil extractable PO43−, NH4+, and NO3 as well as total soil carbon and nitrogen. We analysed AM fungal abundance in soil and roots through fatty acid marker analysis (NLFA and PLFA 16:1ω5), spore extraction, and root staining. Slash-and-burn caused an increase in pH and doubled the plant available nutrients (from 7.4 to 13.1 µg PO43− g−1 and from 6.9 to 13.2 µg NO3 g−1). Total C and total N increased in deforested soil, from 0.6% to 0.84% and from 0.06% to 0.08%, respectively. There was a significant decline in AM fungi abundance in soil, with a decrease in soil NLFA 16:1ω5 from 0.2 to 0.12 nmol/g. AM fungi abundance in D. madagascariensis roots was also negatively affected and colonization decreased from 27.7% to 16.9% and NLFA 16:1ω5 decreased from 75.7 to 19 nmol/g. Together with hyphal network disruption, increased nutrient availability caused by burning is proposed as an explanation behind AM decline in soil and roots of D. madagascariensis. This is the first study to report the effects of slash-and-burn on AM symbiosis in Madagascar’s dry forests, with likely implications for other tropical and subtropical dryland forests worldwide where slash-and-burn is practiced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Article
Historical Drivers and Contemporary Perceptions of Wildfire in a Post-Industrial Rural Landscape
Fire 2018, 1(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire1020033 - 14 Sep 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2289
Abstract
Placed-based fire management planning that considers historical patterns and processes as well as contemporary local knowledge is recognized as an alternative to broad-scale, regional approaches. In this paper, we used dendrochronology and an online survey to assess historical trends and contemporary perceptions of [...] Read more.
Placed-based fire management planning that considers historical patterns and processes as well as contemporary local knowledge is recognized as an alternative to broad-scale, regional approaches. In this paper, we used dendrochronology and an online survey to assess historical trends and contemporary perceptions of wildfire, respectively, in the fire-prone anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania. We developed an annual index of fire occurrence and extent from 216 fire-scarred pitch pine (Pinus rigida) distributed across 9 ridgetop study sites for the period 1900–2016. In addition, we collected survey responses from area residents regarding contemporary perceptions of wildfire hazards and management. Our results show that 20th century wildfire activity was not associated with drought, but closely followed fluctuations in the anthracite coal industry, with increased fire occurrence and extent associated with times of severe job losses. Less extensive wildfire continues to occur frequently, with area residents recognizing the need for fuel management (i.e., prescribed fire) and an increase in resources allocated to wildfire prevention and management as well as trash disposal and recycling programs. Our research represents one example of an integrated approach to informing sustainable fire management that considers the link between historical patterns and contemporary perceptions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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Review

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Review
Fire and Forest Management in Montane Forests of the Northwestern States and California, USA
Fire 2019, 2(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2020017 - 03 Apr 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1862
Abstract
We reviewed forest management in the mountainous regions of several northwestern states and California in the United States and how it has impacted current issues facing these forests. We focused on the large-scale activities like fire suppression and logging which resulted in landscape [...] Read more.
We reviewed forest management in the mountainous regions of several northwestern states and California in the United States and how it has impacted current issues facing these forests. We focused on the large-scale activities like fire suppression and logging which resulted in landscape level changes. We divided the region into two main forests types; wet, like the forests in the Pacific Northwest, and dry, like the forests in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. In the wet forests, the history of intensive logging shaped the current forest structure, while fire suppression played a more major role in the dry forests. Next, we looked at how historical management has influenced new forest management challenges, like catastrophic fires, decreased heterogeneity, and climate change. We then synthesized what current management actions are performed to address these issues, like thinning to reduce fuels or improve structural heterogeneity, and restoration after large-scale disturbances. Lastly, we touch on some major policies that have influenced changes in management. We note a trend towards ecosystem management that considers a forest’s historical disturbance regime. With expected climate induced changes in fire frequency, it is suggested that fuel treatments be implemented in dry forests to ensure an understory fire regime is restored in these forest systems. With respect to wet forests in this region, it is suggested that there is still a place for stand-replacing fire regimes. However, these forests will require structural changes incorporating heterogeneity to improve their resiliency and health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
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