Modelling the Spatial Interactions of Biophysical Factors Associated with the likelihood of wildfires in the Sunyani West District of Ghana

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Author(s) G. Ashiagbor | P.B. Laari
Pages 710-717
Volume 2
Issue 10
Date October, 2013
Keywords Fire Risk Model, Spatial Analysis, Forest Fire, Wild Fire
Abstract

In Ghana fire accounts for one of the major causative agents responsible for reducing productivity and depleting the genetic diversity of forests. Forest fires in Ghana have been estimated to cause an annual loss of 3% of GDP during the past years. They are anthropogenic in origin and can be prevented to a large extent if local people are effectively educated on the threats forest fires pose to their environment. This paper develops a wildfire risk model through the study of the spatial dimensions of interacting factors associated with the likelihood of wildfires. GIS system is used effectively to combine different forest-fire causing factors (Anthropogenic and physical). TM image cover of the study area was classified into five different land fuel types using supervised classification method to an overall accuracy of 83%. The development of the fire risk model was divided into four sub models namely; fuel risk sub model, ignition sub model, detection risk sub model and response risk sub model. The final fire risk model expressed as the weighted sum of all the sub models reflects both the likelihood of ignition and the risk of spreading. The model was validated by mapping recently burnt areas and overlaying with the final model and sub-models. According to the model, 39% of the project area falls within the high to very high fire risk zones. Results from the study shows that the major constituent factor to forest fire in the project area is the high fuel content and human activities. Controlling the fuel index by reducing fuel content thus enhancing the land cover, will greatly reduce the vulnerability of the area to forest fire. An introduction of integrated approaches focusing on controlling the high risk of ignition, reducing the high fuel risk content as well as sustaining and enhancing local livelihood is important in controlling forest fire in the district.

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