Map of Fire Occurrence a Critical Need for Conservation
Development of a comprehensive spatially explicit map of fire occurrence remains one of the most critical needs for conservation in Florida and the Southeastern U.S. Not only are the vast majority of Florida’s endangered species and ecosystems reliant on frequent fire, but fire risk analysis, prescribed fire planning, and fire behavior modeling are sensitive to fire history. Fire occurrence in Florida is currently tracked by approximate location through the Florida Forest Service (FFS) burn authorization system, Fire Management Information System (FMIS). While this system represents one of the most advanced prescribed fire planning datasets in the country, the system does not record perimeter data or include assessments regarding which burns are actually completed. Relying solely on this system results in documented data gaps when estimating the size, location and effectiveness of managed fires on a statewide scale. These “actual burned” areas are critical factors in analyses and models evaluating conservation success.
Tall Timbers is addressing this need by developing a robust spatial database for more precise mapping and tracking of all prescribed fire in Florida. Tall Timbers’ GIS staff will apply advanced remote sensing techniques to known locations of prescribed fires, as identified in the FFS system, to record actual spatial fire boundaries into a modified version of the U.S. Air Force Wildland Fire Database. In addition, custom query tools will be developed to report fire history (e.g., frequency, time-since-burn), in specific fire dependent ecological systems or fire dependent species habitats.
Recently, Tall Timbers’ staff held a workshop to gather input from project partners, identify connections to existing fire management efforts, and collect feedback on key ancillary data, required analysis and research that would benefit project participants. Tall Timbers, FWC, and Peninsular Florida LCC personnel organized the workshop, and attendees represented a broad spectrum of fire practitioners and GIS data managers from federal, state, and private organizations.
The workshop participants were: 1) presented a suite of remote sensing approaches to fire mapping that will be leveraged for this statewide mapping effort; 2) shown existing datasets that will be used to validated FFS permitting data; and 3) introduced to the functionality and structure of the Air Force Wildland Fire Data Management System.
Following lunch, participants focused on three broad questions that will guide data development and system reporting throughout the life of this project. These were: 1) existing spatial data; 2) analysis and expectations of this project; and 3) integration and limitations of data acquisition and reporting.