Online Tool to Monitor Fires in Protected Areas

30 octobre 2014

The Joint Research Center of the European Commission (EC-JRC) developed a Fire Monitoring Tool for the world’s protected areas to support park managers in their decision making and monitoring activity. The same system will be built-in integrated into the the Regional Reference Information System of the BIOPAMA programme.

Vegetation fires are a worldwide phenomenon burning every year between 3.5 and 4.5 million square kilometers of land surface, especially in the tropical regions. Besides the negative effects it can have on ecosystems, fire has also an important ecological role and contributes to maintain healthy habitats and biodiversity in many biomes globally. 

For this reason, the EC-JRC developed a Fire Monitoring Tool for the world’s protected areas to support park managers in their decision making and monitoring activity. The same system will be built-in integrated into the the Regional Reference Information System of the BIOPAMA programme to provide near real-time information derived from the NASA-FIRMS and University of Maryland fire products for areas listed in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).

Timely information about fire occurrence is useful to verify prescribed burnings which are a common practice in many fire-adapted ecosystems. Prescribed fires are used to maintain some key services provided by ecosystems (e.g. pasture for herbivores). In protected areas fires are often applied to maintain the balance between trees, shrubs and grass, control bush encroachment and invasive species. Inside and outside protected areas burning is also used to reduce the biomass fuel levels and therefore the risk of uncontrolled fires. The Fire Tool provides a suite of indicators and visualization tools that can be used in park management to reinforce actions against illegal activities, such as poaching, which are often associated with fires.

The fire tool can be started from: https://acpobservatory.jrc.ec.europa.eu/content/fire-monitoring where the user can select a protected area to access maps, statistics and download data. The time series for the data covers the period 2001 to present.

In the image below: The fire activity in Serengeti National Park as displayed on the Fire Tool. This page is automatically populated with graphs and statistics about the latest fire season, for a selected protected area. The user can find information about fire occurrence (active fires, points), burned areas and the corresponding maps which can be downloaded.

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