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Wildfire risk zonation in a tropical forest division in Kerala, India: A study using geospatial techniques.

  • VEENA, Haridas Sheela
  • Ajin R S
  • LOGHIN, Ana-Maria
  • SIPAI, Rabina
  • ADARSH, Pappukutty
  • VISWAM, Arya
  • VINOD, Padmakumari Gopinathan
  • JACOB, Mathew Karumamkottu
  • JAYAPRAKASH, Muthumanickam
Published Article
International Journal of Conservation Science
Publication Date
Sep 03, 2017


The forests of the Western Ghats in India are often affected by wildfires. Such forest fires are potential hazards seriously damaging the environment. Wildfire occurrence in an area is influenced by environment, terrain, and climatic conditions, alongside with human activities. The records on previous forest fire data show that the present study area is also prone to fires. The present study aims to delineate and map wildfire risk zones in Thenmala forest division, a part of the Western Ghats, using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques. Factors such as land use/land cover (LU/LC) type, slope, aspect, distance from settlement, distance from road, and elevation are selected for this study. All these factors have direct or indirect influence on fire occurrence. A Modified Fire Risk Index method has been used to prepare the fire risk zone map. The prepared fire risk zone map of Thenmala forest division has classified the area into five zones viz., very low, low, moderate, high, and very high. Finally, the risk zone map is validated with the fire incidence points, which shows that 75% of the fires have occurred in the high and very high risk zones. This shows the effectiveness of the present methodology and can be used for entire Western Ghats region. The study shows that the majority of fires are induced by humans. The officials of the forest departments can use this risk zone map to easily locate areas under high and very high fire risks and take effective preventive and mitigation measures. This can reduce loss of life and precious forest wealth.

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