Evaluations on the Consequences of Fire Suppression and the Ecological Effects of Fuel Treatment Scenarios in a Boreal Forest of the Great Xing’an Mountains, China

Han He, Yu Chang, Zhihua Liu, Zaiping Xiong, Lujia Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

With global warming, catastrophic forest fires have frequently occurred in recent years, posing a major threat to forest resources and people. How to reduce forest fire risk is a hot topic in forest management. Concerns regarding fire suppression and forest fuel treatments are rising. Few studies have evaluated the ecological effects of fuel treatments. In this study, we used the LANDIS PRO model to simulate the consequences of fire suppression and the ecological effects of fuel treatments in a boreal forest of the Great Xing’an Mountains, China. Four simulation scenarios were designed, focusing on whether to conduct fuel treatments or not under two fire-control policies (current fire suppression policy and no fire suppression policy). Each scenario contains nine fuel treatment plans based on the combinations of different treatment methods (coarse woody debris reduction, prescribed burning, coarse woody debris reduction plus prescribed burning), treatment frequency (low, medium, and high), and treatment area (large, medium, and small). The ecological effects of the fuel treatments were evaluated according to the changes in fire regimes, species succession, and forest landscape patterns to find a forest fuel management plan that is suitable for the Great Xing’an Mountains. The results showed that long-term fire suppression increases fuel loads and the probability of high-intensity forest fires. The nine fuel management plans did not show significant differences in terms of species succession and forest landscape patterns while lowering forest fire intensity, and none of them were able to restore historical vegetation structure and composition. Our results consolidate the foundation for the practical performance of forest fuel treatments in fire-prone forest landscapes. We suggest a suitable fuel treatment plan for the Great Xing’an Mountains, with a low treatment frequency (20 years), large treatment area (10%), and coarse woody debris reduction, plus the prescribed burning measure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number85
JournalForests
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • LANDIS PRO
  • ecological effects
  • fire suppression
  • forest management
  • fuel treatments
  • the Great Xing’an Mountains

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