Analyzing the effectiveness of alternative fuel reductions of a forested landscape in Northeastern China

Zhihua Liu, Hong S. He, Yu Chang, Yuanman Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Successful management of forest fire risk in the Northeastern China boreal forest ecosystem often involves trade-offs between fire dynamics, fire hazard reduction, and fiscal input. We used the LANDIS model to study the effects of alternative fuel reduction strategies on fire dynamics and analyzed cost effectiveness for each fuel reduction strategy based on cost-benefit theory. Five levels of fuel treatment area (2, 4, 6, 8, and 10% for each decade) and two fuel treatment types (prescribed burning [PB] and mechanical treatments in combination with prescribed fire [PR]) under current fire suppression simulated by LANDIS were compared in a 5 × 2 factorial design over a 300-year period. The results showed that PR scenarios are more effective at reducing the occurrence and burn area of catastrophic fires than PB scenarios. In addition, area burned by high intensity fire can be tremendously reduced by increasing low intensity fires with a higher level of treatment area under the various PR scenarios. The cost effectiveness of alternative fuel reduction strategies is strongly dependent on treatment area. In general, PB scenarios will be more cost effective in larger treatment areas and PR scenarios in smaller. We recommend mechanical treatments in combination with prescribed fire, with 4% of landscape treated in each decade (PR04) to be the optimal fuel reduction strategy in the study area based on risk control and cost efficiency analysis. However, the most challenging work in China is to make local forest policy makers and land managers accept the ecological function of fire on forest ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1255-1261
Number of pages7
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 20 2010


This research is funded by The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC; grant no. 30670363 ) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS; grant nos. KSCX2-SW-133 and KZCX2-YW-444 ). The authors thank two anonymous reviewers whose constructive comments and suggestions helped improve the manuscript.

FundersFunder number
National Natural Science Foundation of China30670363
Chinese Academy of SciencesKSCX2-SW-133, KZCX2-YW-444


    • Economic analysis
    • Fire risk
    • Forest
    • Fuel reduction
    • LANDIS
    • Northeastern China


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