Fire-fighting in Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve


What research has been done on forest fires?

In 2004, research by ALTA partners WCS, Tigris Foundation and the GIS laboratory TIGIS determined the extent of burning with use of satellite images and GIS techniques. This analysis revealed that on average, 19% of SW Primorye burns annually and a total of 46% burned at least once during the six years for which good images are available. Analyses of tiger and leopard preferences have demonstrated that both prefer mature forest types, and avoid open grasslands and human-dominated landscapes. This analysis of tiger and leopard locations (based on winter surveys that report locations of tracks) clearly showed that both leopards and tigers avoid areas that have suffered regular burning.

Protecting Kedrovaya Pad nature reserve

One of the key areas that suffers from frequent fires is the 17,900 ha UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Kedrovaya Pad”, which is located in the central part of the Amur leopard’s range in SW Primorye. Our study showed that on average, 7% of the Kedrovaya Pad Reserve burns annually and as much as 21% burned at least once during the six-year period for which data was available at the time of the 2004 study.

In order to protect the Kedrovaya Pad reserve from ground fires, a firebreak system of 41 km in length was built around the reserve. However, the firebreaks have not been maintained for many years. Vegetation has started to grow on the breaks and they no longer provide protection against fires.

The following fire-control activities will be implemented at Kedrovaya Pad over a two-year period:
1. Repairing of the reserve’s bulldozer.
2. Renewal of 41 kilometres of firebreaks around the reserve with use of the bulldozer.
3. Purchase of a tractor and plough for bi-annual maintenance of the renewed breaks.
4. Improvement of the fire-fighting capacity of the reserve.
5. Monitoring of the reduction of the area affected by forest fires in the Kedrovaya Pad reserve.

We expect to be able to reduce the area of the reserve that annually burns by 80%.

Wild Fires in Primorski Krai

Since spring 2009 the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Slavyanka Municipality (Khasan District, Primorsky Province) have been operating a fire management project aimed at reducing wild fires in a 280-k m ² project area in the Slavyanka Municipalit. After a development phase in 2009, this program succeeded in reducing the area that burnt by an estimated 83% in 2010 and 99% in 2011 in comparison to what would have burned in absence of our interventions.

This approach is a simple combination of effective fire-fighting and behavioral modification of local people to reduce the number of fires that have to be fought. This paper briefly explains our experience and  examines whether similar approaches may be  applicable elsewhere not only in Primorye, but across Russia.

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Wild Fires in Russia 15th Jan 2011