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2019 - Development of a fuel measurement system for the forest fire risk mapping system in Costa Rica

Fuel models for tropical fire management have not been well developed so Dos Fuegos was challenged to build fuel models for identifying risks from scratch. To complete the project, Dos Fuegos turned to the basics for providing fuel models to accurately identify risks and flammability with field work.

With the help of local SINAC staff at Chirripo and La Amistad National Parks and technical assistance with CATIE, we placed fuel transects and plots in 8 sites and 4 Ecosystems. We based our protocols and methods on Brown’s planar transects and Scott & Burgan’s 40 fuel models. This reliable process of data collection was used to assess the flammability of fuels, fire behavior and the effects of fire. This included the determination of the types of flammable fuels, the installation of plots and the monitoring of photographic points.

Even if some fuels management and experimental prescribed burning is conducted in Costa Rica, their fire management remains primarily in a suppression response mode. In part the emphasis on suppression response is based on a belief that most fires are destructive and on the lack of information on fuel monitoring and its importance.

Dos Fuegos Fire Management seeks to provide reliable data for decision-making and operational strategies.

We found that many of their fire prone ecosystems such as La Esperanza Savanna at La Amistad National Park was deteriorating from a lack of fire. Conversely fire sensitive ecosystems were impacted by wildfire converting biologically diverse arms into fern and blackberry thickets.

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