In some ways, the name LANDFIRE can be misleading. The suite of tools, models and digital map layers -- the first complete, nationally consistent collection of resources with an ecological foundation -- are valuable resources for those working on fuels and fire-related land management issues, scenario planning and budgeting, of course. However, LANDFIRE models and spatial layers have been used in numerous and varied conservation applications that extend way "beyond fire," as we like to say.
Because LANDFIRE has been around since 2004, keeping track of the thousands of ways our data and tools are being used is impossible. So, we've done some selecting and offer recommendations in the pages that follow.
The Gateway's Application section is divided into three parts:
On this page, TNC's LANDFIRE Team
offers a few of our favorite reports and case studies that have been written by practitioners, science communities, land managers and project leaders across the United States; we think offer a bit of perspective on LANDFIRE's variety of uses.
In the second part, Summary Stories
, thumbnail reports illustrate a few LANDFIRE applications include citations, abstracts, maps, photos, and further information about the reasons for and results of LANDFIRE product uses.
The third part (about to be revised) shows how LANDFIRE products, when used in a process called "Landscape Conservation Forecasting
," have profoundly impacted the ways managers of large landscapes approach planning activities and on-the-ground applications across the country.
Jim Smith, LANDFIRE Project Lead
Tim Christiansen, LRAM/RTLA Coordinator of the Texas Army National Guard's Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program, provides a "Top Eleven" list of application of LANDFIRE products, that includes practices in climate, weather, vegetation, land management, erosion, remote sensing, habitat health assessment and much more. It's an eye opener and a reminder of the broad horizon of applications that LANDFIRE data products can be used for -- it's not just about fire!
The Southern Appalachian Assessment used LF EVT dataset to develop a "Forests Vitality Index" that supports forest management and reclamation activities, including watershed and water quality protection, soil erosion control, continuous yield of forest products, and multiple wildlife and recreational benefits.
Kori Blankenship, Fire Ecologist
LANDFIRE data can be updated and modified to improve fire behavior, consumption and emissions estimates. In the short report Updating LANDFIRE Fuel Grids Using MTBS Fire Severity Data,
Beauchaine and Blankenship document the process they used for updating LANDFIRE’s 2012 fire behavior fuel model 40 and associated spatial data layers to a reflect changes on the landscape resulting from four large fires in 2013 within the South Central Idaho Fire Planning Unit.
Jeannie Patton, Communications Lead
Cherokee National Forest Collaborative
Forest pests and pathogens. Historic over-harvesting and over-grazing. Invasives. Climate change. Fire suppression and altered fire regimes. The number of historic and current threats to the health of the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee sounds like the introduction to a horror story. Learn from this true study of challenges overcome, successful collaboration, and a plan for restoration that brought a disparate group of stake-holders together in unprecedented -- some would say miraculous -- cooperation.
Randy Swaty, Ecologist
William Elliot and colleagues presented a paper, Combining Fire and Erosion Modeling to Target Forest Management Activities,
that uses fire and erosion modeling to target forest restoration. Working in California, authors estimated fire risk and post-fire erosion from a target watershed. Erosion was mapped per hillslope, providing guidance for where restoration could be focused. It is an elegant approach that used LANDFIRE fuels, Existing Vegetation Type and Existing Vegetation Cover data.
Kim Hall, Climate Change Ecologist
LANDFIRE vegetation cover maps play an important supporting role in a recent evaluation of how avian malaria and climate change may interact to further reduce future ranges for Hawaiian forest birds. In a study by Fortini et al
. (USGS, USFWS), LANDFIRE EVT were used to evaluate habitat availability under future climate conditions within ranges estimated from species distribution models.
Bet-hedging dry-forest resilience to climate-change threats in the western USA based on historical forest structure
. My work focuses on evaluating climate change impacts, and updating conservation strategies to reduce climate-related risks. So, I was particularly interested in a recent paper by Baker and Williams in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
(2015) that draws upon LANDFIRE maps of ponderosa pine and dry mixed conifer forest. This paper provides interesting food for thought related to the role of small trees in conferring resilience to fire, insects, and drought. Thinking through all of these interactions can help us update forest management for climate change.
In another avian application
, Gnass Giese et al. used LANDFIRE EVT to evaluate whether bird distributions across a wide range of sites in the Great Lakes region show a “human footprint.” The team demonstrates how bird survey data and land use information can be crafted into a bird-based index of ecological condition for the region, noting that while other datasets mapped vegetation at finer resolution.
Sarah Hagen, Spatial Analyst
To quantify and identify priority areas for prescribed fire, the Wisconsin Fire Needs Assessment
combines the information for fire dependent vegetation with additional spatial data sets to assess the benefits, effort, and challenges associated with using prescribed fire. LF data were used because they include both public and private lands; they are publicly available, making the methods easy to replicate for other states; and the assessment can be updated with future versions of LF data. Vegetation descriptions that included historical mean fire return intervals were an important part of the analysis.
The Illinois Fire Council developed the state's fire needs assessment
to promote and expand the use of prescribed fire. This is the first systematic report in Illinois to document the number of acres burned annually and identify how many need to burn in order to promote ecosystem health. It provides a call to action for land managers, legislators and the general public. Products used: BpS, EVT, and MFRI were foundational resources.
I'm reading Richard Manning's
1997 book Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics and Promise of the American Prairie
, and recommend it, especially if you haven't thought about grasslands the way that I do -- as THE coolest ecosystems. One of the many quotes that speak to me is this: "Once covered with tall-grass prairie and a few fingers of oak savannahs, [Iowa] now holds less than one half of one percent of its original habitat. By comparison, the amount of old-growth forest remaining in the Pacific Northwest--the region where our most vociferous environmental battles rage--makes that region positively pristine." [LANDFIRE note: read Sarah's blog No Place Else I'd Rather Be
for more context.]
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