Canadian Forest Service Publications

An alternative fire regime zonation for Canada. 2012. Boulanger, Y.; Gauthier, S.; Burton, P.J.; Vaillancourt, M.-A. Int. J. Wildland Fire 21:1052-1064

Year: 2012

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34274

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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The ability of national and multipurpose ecological classification systems to provide an optimal zonation for a fire regime is questionable. Using wildfire (.1 ha) point data for the 1980–99 period, we defined zones with a homogeneous fire regime (HFR) across Canada and we assessed how these differ from the National Ecological Framework for Canada (NEFC) units of corresponding scale, i.e. ecoprovinces. Two HFR zonations were produced through spatially constrained clustering of (i) 1600-km2 cells and (ii) the smallest units of the NEFC system, i.e. ecodistricts, using attributes for natural and anthropogenic fires. Thirty-three HFR zones were identified. HFR zonations showed smaller differences among each other than with NEFC ecoprovinces. Comparisons with ecoprovinces suggested general agreement of generalised fire regime values with HFR zones but with poor zone boundary correspondence. Ecoprovince zonation led to an overgeneralisation of fire regime estimates with less variation captured than by the HFR zonations, especially that using gridded fixed-area cells. Estimates of fire-return interval strongly differed between a priori and HFR zonations. The use of large-scale NEFC units or a zonation using its smallest units may constrain our ability to accurately quantify and portray fire regime variability across the country. The alternative empirical HFR zonation using gridded cells refines the location and nature of fire risk.