Original Research

A spatial and temporal assessment of fire regimes on different vegetation types using MODIS burnt area products

Nokuphila L.S. Buthelezi, Onisimo Mutanga, Mathieu Rouget, Mbulisi Sibanda
Bothalia | Vol 46, No 2 | a2148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v46i2.2148 | © 2016 Nokuphila L.S. Buthelezi, Onisimo Mutanga, Mathieu Rouget, Mbulisi Sibanda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2016 | Published: 02 December 2016

About the author(s)

Nokuphila L.S. Buthelezi, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Onisimo Mutanga, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Mathieu Rouget, Centre for Invasion Biology, School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Somalia
Mbulisi Sibanda, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The role of fire in maintaining grassland diversity has been widely recognised; however, its effect in KwaZulu-Natal grasslands is still rudimentary. In that regard, understanding fire regimes of different vegetation types in KwaZulu-Natal is a critical step towards the development of effective management strategies that are specific to each vegetation type.
Objective: To assess the effect of different vegetation types on fire regimes in KwaZulu-Natal using moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) burnt fire products.
Method: Ten years of fire data for four different vegetation types (Ngongoni Veld, KwaZuluNatal Sandstone Sourveld, Eastern Valley Bushveld and KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt) were extracted from the MODIS products and used as a basis to establish three parameters: annual burnt areas, fire season and fire frequency. The total burnt area within each vegetation type over the 10-year period was quantified.
Results: The KZN Sandstone Sourveld had a high-burnt area of 80% in 2009 with KwaZuluNatal Coastal Belt having the least burnt area of less than 5%. Ngongoni Veld and the KwaZuluNatal Sandstone Sourveld had the highest fire frequency, while the coastal region had low fire frequencies. Results showed high fire prevalence during the late period of the dry season (which extends from June to August) across all the vegetation types.
Conclusion: This study underscores the potential of remotely sensed data (MODIS burned area products) in providing a comprehensive view of fire patterns in different vegetation types

Keywords

fire regimes; burned Area; MODIS; vegetation types

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Bothalia  vol: 46  issue: 2  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/abc.v46i2.2199