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A Computational Method for Optimizing Fuel Treatment Locations

Author(s): Mark A. Finney
Year Published: 2007

Modelling and experiments have suggested that spatial fuel treatment patterns can influence the movement of large fires. On simple theoretical landscapes consisting of two fuel types (treated and untreated), optimal patterns can be analytically derived that disrupt fire growth efficiently (i.e. with less area treated than random patterns). Although conceptually simple, the application of these theories to actual landscapes is made difficult by heterogeneity (fuels, weather, and topography). Here a computational method is described for heterogeneous landscapes that identifies efficient fuel treatment units and patterns for a selected fire weather scenario. The method requires input of two sets of spatial input data: (1) the current fuel conditions; and (2) the potential fuel conditions after a treatment is conducted (if treatment is permitted in a particular location). The contrast in fire spread rate between the two landscapes under the weather scenario conditions indicates where treatments are effective at delaying the growth of fires. Fire growth from the upwind edge of the landscape is then computed using a minimum travel time algorithm. This identifies major fire travel routes (areas needing treatment) and their intersections with the areas where treatments occurred and reduced the spread rate (opportunity for treatment). These zones of treatment 'need and opportunity' are iteratively delineated by contiguous patches of raster cells up to a user-supplied constraint on percentage of land area to be treated. This algorithm is demonstrated for simple and for complex landscapes.

Citation: Finney, Mark A. 2007. A computational method for optimising fuel treatment locations. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16(6):702-711. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF06063
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Weather, Mapping, Fuels
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20526
FRAMES RCS number: 3738
Record updated: Dec 26, 2019