Increased fire hazard in human-modified wetlands in Southeast Asia

Muh Taufik*, Budi I. Setiawan, Henny A.J. van Lanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Vast areas of wetlands in Southeast Asia are undergoing a transformation process to human-modified ecosystems. Expansion of agricultural cropland and forest plantations changes the landscape of wetlands. Here we present observation-based modelling evidence of increased fire hazard due to canalization in tropical wetland ecosystems. Two wetland conditions were tested in South Sumatra, Indonesia, natural drainage and canal drainage, using a hydrological model and a drought-fire index (modified Keetch–Byram index). Our results show that canalization has amplified fire susceptibility by 4.5 times. Canal drainage triggers the fire season to start earlier than under natural wetland conditions, indicating that the canal water level regime is a key variable controlling fire hazard. Furthermore, the findings derived from the modelling experiment have practical relevance for public and private sectors, as well as for water managers and policy makers, who deal with canalization of tropical wetlands, and suggest that improved water management can reduce fire susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-373
JournalAmbio
Volume48
Issue number4
Early online date3 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

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Keywords

  • Canal water level
  • Canalization
  • Fire hazard
  • SWAP
  • Water management

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