Have historical land use/land cover changes triggered a fire regime shift in Central Spain?

By Celia Conde on

Abstract: Fire is one of the main disturbance factors shaping the landscape, and landscape is a key driver of fire behavior. Considering the role played by land use and land cover (LULC) changes as the main driver of landscape dynamics, the aim of this study was to calculate and analyze (i) the real impact of fire on LULC changes and (ii) how these LULC changes were influencing the fire regime. We used methods of historical geography and socio-spatial systemic analysis for reconstructing and assessing the LULC change and fire history in six case studies in the Central Mountain System (Spain) from archival documentary sources and historical cartography. The main result is an accurate dataset of fire records from 1497 to 2013 and a set of LULC maps for three time points (1890s–1930s, 1956–1957, and the 2000s). We have shown the nonlinear evolution of the fire regime and the importance of the local scale when assessing the interaction of landscape dynamics and fire regime variation. Our findings suggest that LULC trends have been the main influencing factor of fire regime variation in Central Spain since the mid-19th century.

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