GONZALEZ sofia Laura
Fire hazard assessment at different scales in the wildland-urban interface of semiarid areas of northern Patagonia
Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
Frontiers Media
Año: 2022 vol. 5
Wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires have increased in the last decades,putting lives and homes at risk, and fire hazard assessment is a usefultool to develop plans for prevention and fire management. In northwesternPatagonia, the WUI areas are principally located around the urbanized zonesthat are not only cities or towns but settlements surrounded by the naturalenvironment. In Patagonia, there are the largest and most ancient nationalparks of Argentina with areas where former settlers develop their livestockactivities. We assessed the fire hazard in the Laguna Blanca National Park(LBNP) located in Neuquén province (Patagonia, Argentina) dominated bysteppe vegetation. We performed the study at two scales: community andspecies. Community scale comprised the variables vegetation cover, slope,and rock fragments, whereas species scale included flammability variables ofdominant species (tussock grasses and shrubs) at leaf- and plant-level. Weintegrated all variables at different scales and grouped the vegetation unitsinto three classes using multivariate analysis. Finally, we established threefire hazard categories for each vegetation unit: low, moderate, and high, toelaborate a fire hazard map. Three vegetation units, which represented 37%of the area of the park, were categorized with high fire hazard because ofthe high cover and horizontal continuity of dominant vegetation. The tussockgrass Pappostipa speciosa and the shrubs Mulinum spinosum, Nassauviaaxillaris, and Anarthorphyllum rigidum were the most flammable species andthe most frequent species in the park. Land uses in the park (i.e., transhumanceand tourism) would be regulated with the collaboration of settlers becauseincrease the vulnerability to wildfires. Our fire hazard map constitutes avaluable tool because it identified the most vulnerable WUI in the LBNP. Thisstudy emphasizes the need to include flammability and fuel load studies infire management plans to better protect human lives and natural resources inprotected areas.