Review of methods for modelling forest fire risk and hazard
Forest fires (wildfires) have become a major concern for several environmental experts. Assessment of fire effects at local scale is increasingly considered a critical aspect of ecosystem functioning, since fire plays a crucial role in vegetation composition, biodiversity, soil erosion and the hydrological cycle. At global scale, fire is the most generalized means of transforming tropical forest in agricultural areas, and it has severe impacts on global atmospheric chemistry. Fire is a natural factor in many climates with high levels of vegetation stress. However, changes in traditional land use such as hunting, charcoal production, inefficient logging practices and rural abandonment patterns, which have been identified as major causes of wild fires, have recently modified the incidence of fire. Several assessment techniques and methods have been developed to help model and evaluate forest fire risk and hazard. There is the need to identify a method or combination of methods to help model forest fire risk and hazard to enable the sustainability of the natural resources. In this paper, the various methods are reviewed in order to enhance the use of appropriate method(s) for forest fire risk and hazard management. From the review and deductions of the methods, it was concluded that spatial multi-criteria modelling and evaluation (SMCME) of fire risk and hazard is preferred. It was also deduced that combination of SMCME with other methods has proven to be more efficient and effective when compared with the use of individual methods.
Key words: Forest fires, risk, hazard, management