Reconstruction of a fire regime using MODIS burned area data : Charara Safari Area, Zimbabwe

Magadzire, Nyasha (2013-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Current efforts to address Zimbabwe‘s decade long veld fire crisis has partly been hindered by a lack of financial resources and fire data. This study illustrates the potential of using the MODIS burned area product as an alternative cost- and time-effective method for reconstructing historical fire records in Zimbabwe. Two MODIS burned area products were evaluated, namely the MCD45A1 and WAMIS (Meraka Institute‘s MODIS burned area product). Both products yielded similar levels of accuracy despite the difference in algorithms. However, it is assumed that at certain thresholds, either in tree cover or fire intensity, WAMIS ceases to map fires as accurately as the MCD45A1. Ten years of fire data for Charara Safari Area (CSA) was extracted from the MCD45A1, and used as a basis to establish six parameters: fire incidence, extent, seasonality, fire size, frequency and fire return interval (FRI). It was observed that approximately 50% of CSA burned annually, with an average of 132 fires occurring every year. Although there was no overall increase or decrease in the extent of area burned over the 10 year study period, an increasing trend in fire incidence was noted. Through an assessment of effective fire size, it was established that more fires in CSA were gradually becoming smaller in size, while the extent of area burned remained fairly constant. Hence, the increase in fire incidences and lack of a corresponding increase in area burned. This study was also used to identify areas in the fire regime that may be a potential ecological risk to the miombo woodland in CSA. Three points of concern were revealed: firstly, a high prevalence of late season fires was observed in the northern bounds of CSA. Secondly, 64.2% of the total area burned in CSA burned between 6 and 10 times over the 10 year period, and lastly, 85% of the total area burned over the period 2001 and 2010 had a FRI of less than 2 years. The combination of late season fires, high fire frequency and short FRI in CSA is indicative of possible alterations in the state of the miombo woodlands, which may have negative socio-economic implications on CSA and its surrounding communities. This study has demonstrated that the MCD45A1 is a useful source of much needed fire information for Zimbabwe. Therefore, the possibility of integrating methods employed in this study into the current collection of fire data should be given due consideration.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Huidige pogings om Zimbabwe se dekade lank veldbrand krisis aan te spreek is gedeeltelik belemmer deur 'n gebrek aan finansiële hulpbronne en vuurdata. Hierdie studie illustreer die potensiaal van die gebruik van die MODIS verbrande area produk as 'n alternatiewe koste-en tyd-effektiewe metode vir die rekonstruksie van historiese vuurrekords in Zimbabwe. Twee MODIS verbrande area produkte is geëvalueer, naamlik die MCD45A1 en WAMIS (Meraka Instituut se MODIS verbrand area produk). Beide produkte het soortgelyke vlakke van akkuraatheid opgelewer ten spyte van die verskil in die algoritmes. Dit word egter aanvaar dat op sekere drempels, óf in die boom bedekking, of brandintensiteit, WAMIS brande minder akkuraat karteer as die MCD45A1 produk. Tien jaar van vuurdata vir Charara Safari Area (CSA) is uit die MCD45A1 data onttrek, en gebruik as 'n basis om ses parameters vas te stel: vuurvoorkoms, omvang, seisoenaliteit, vuurgrootte, frekwensie en tyd tussen die terugkeer van vuur na ‗n spesifieke plek (nl. FRI). Dit is waargeneem dat ongeveer 50% van die CSA jaarliks gebrand word, met 'n gemiddeld van 132 brande wat elke jaar voorkom. Daar was nie 'n algehele toename of afname in die omvang van die totale verbrande area oor die 10 jaar studietydperk nie. Maar 'n toenemende neiging in die vuurvoorkoms was wel opgemerk. Deur middel van 'n assessering van effektiewe vuurgrootte, is daar vasgestel dat meer kleiner brande in CSA voorkom, terwyl die omvang van die verbrand area redelik konstant gebly het. Dus was daar ‗n toename in die aantal vuurvoorvalle al was daar nie 'n ooreenstemmende toename in die totale verbrande oppervlakte was nie. Hierdie studie is ook gebruik om gebiede in die vuurregime te identifiseer wat 'n potensiële ekologiese risiko vir die miombobosveld in CSA inhou. Drie punte van kommer word geopenbaar: eerstens, 'n hoë voorkoms van laatseisoen brande is waargeneem in die noordelike grense van CSA. Tweedens, 64,2% van die totale verbrande oppervlakte in die CSA brand tussen 6 en 10 keer bine die 10-jaar periode. Laastens, 85% van die totale verbrande oppervlakte oor die tydperk 2001 tot 2010 het 'n FRI van minder as twee jaar. Die kombinasie van laatseisoen brande, hoë vuurfrekwensie en kort FRI in CSA is 'n aanduiding van moontlike veranderinge in die toestand van die miomboveld, wat negatiewe sosio-ekonomiese implikasies op die CSA en die omliggende gemeenskappe kan uitoefen. Hierdie studie het getoon dat die MCD45A1 'n nuttige bron van broodnodige vuur inligting vir Zimbabwe is. Daarom, moet die moontlikheid van die integrasie van die metodes wat gebruik word in hierdie studie in die huidige versameling van vuurdata behoorlike oorweging gegee word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80042
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