Modelling the spatial variability of wildfire susceptibility in Honduras using remote sensing and geographical information systems

Miguel Conrado Valdez, Kang Tsung Chang, Chi Farn Chen, Shou Hao Chiang, Jorge Luis Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forests in Honduras are endangered as a result of the relentless occurrence of wildfires during the dry season, and their frequency and area burned have been gradually increasing, a pattern attributable to the numerous ignition sources. For this reason, there is a substantial need to identify the major drivers of wildfires and map the regions where they are most likely to occur. In this study, we integrated the wildfire occurrences throughout the 2010–2015 period with a series of variables using the random forest algorithm. We included variables related to human activities such as the continuous distances to infrastructure and settlements. Other variables included are satellite observations that reflect the seasonal vegetation change, climatic conditions over the country, and topographical variables. The analysis of the explanatory variables revealed that the dry fuel conditions and low precipitation combined with the proximity to non-paved and paved roads were the major drivers of wildfires in the region. The estimated area with high and very high wildfire susceptibility was 15% of the country, located mainly in the central and eastern regions. The proposed national-scale wildfire susceptibility map can lead to enhanced preventive measures to minimize risk and the impacts caused by wildfires.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-892
Number of pages17
JournalGeomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Honduras
  • MODIS
  • Wildfires
  • normalized multi-band drought index
  • random forest
  • susceptibility

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