Modelling feedback between fuel reduction burning and forest carbon and water balance in eucalypt forests
|Title||Modelling feedback between fuel reduction burning and forest carbon and water balance in eucalypt forests|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||Gharun, M, Possell, M, Bell, T|
|Publisher||Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC|
Empirical evidence from Australia shows that fuel-reduction burning significantly reduces the incidence and extent of unplanned fires. However, the integration of environmental values into fire management operations is not yet well-defined and requires further research and development.
While in reality carbon and water processes in forested ecosystems are coupled, effects of fire on these processes are often studied in isolation. Models that simulate the dynamic interaction and feedbacks between these processes are essential for investigations of the effects of fuel management in an environmental setting.
WAVES, a soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer (SVAT) model, was used to simulate the hydrological and ecological effects of four fuel management scenarios on a forest ecosystem. WAVES was applied using inputs from a set of forest plots across south-east Australia for a period of 1 year after four potential scenarios: (1) no fuel- reduction treatment (unburnt), (2) all litter removed, (3) all litter and 50% of the understorey vegetation removed, 4) all litter and all of understorey vegetation removed.
The impacts of fuel-reduction burning on water processes were mainly due to changes in vegetation interception capacity and soil evaporation. The effect of fuel-reduction burning on evapotranspiration is discussed considering the balance of vegetation biomass in the overstorey and the understorey. Recovery of aboveground carbon as plant biomass was strongly linked to variability in available light and soil moisture. We describe how these modelling efforts can be used for impact assessment in terms of water, vegetation and carbon outcomes for planning of fuel reduction burning.