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Development of Forest Fire Risk Map for Budhabalanga River basin in India using Analytical Hierarchical Process
  • B L V Prasad,
  • Venkata Srinivas Vemavarapu
B L V Prasad
Indian Institute of Science Bangalore

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Venkata Srinivas Vemavarapu
Indian Institute of Science
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In recent decades, major growth is observed in wildfire incidents across the globe. These ecological disasters, triggered by natural and/or anthropogenic factors, can have long-lasting effects on the environment, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Advancements in remote sensing technology provided an impetus to forest fires research, enabling precise determination of the geographical locations susceptible to fire and assess fire risk. This study focuses on India, whose total forest cover (71.22 Mha) is about 21.67% of the country’s total geographical area. Around 90% of the forest fires in India are attributable to anthropogenic factors. Therefore, the generation of a forest fire risk map (FRM) is essential for devising strategies to mitigate/manage forest fires and avert their disastrous impacts. An attempt is made to develop FRM for the Budhabalanga river basin, which contains the Similipal national park, a part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. For this purpose, covariates affecting forest fire are identified viz. fuel (vegetation), topographic features (elevation, aspect, and slope), and human activities. The covariates are assigned weights, depicting their relative importance in influencing the fire, byusing Analytical Hierarchical Process (AHP). The AHP is a widely used technique in multi-criteria decision-making models. The Similipal national park has experienced a prolonged dry spell and below-average monsoon in 2020. The consequent dry conditions led to a significant forest fire event in the last week of February 2021, which lasted nearly three weeks. Fine (30m) resolution satellite data (Landsat-8) are used to calculate the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) corresponding to the study area to assess vegetation conditions before the fire event. Furthermore, Cartosat-1 Digital Elevation Model (24m resolution) is used to extract topographic-related information. The FRM generated for the basin using the assigned weights was 80% accurate when validated with 375m resolution NASA’s VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) fire point data for the analyzed fire event. Hence, the methodology considered for developing FRM appears promising. It can be extended to other river basins for identifying fire risk zones and devise timely strategies to mitigate fire risk.