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Habitat in flames: How climate change will affect fire risk across koala forests

journal contribution
submitted on 2024-01-23, 05:14 and posted on 2024-01-23, 05:19 authored by Farzin Shabani, Mahyat Shafapourtehrany, Mohsen Ahmadi, Bahareh Kalantar, Haluk Özener, Kieran Clancy, Atefeh Esmaeili, Ricardo Siqueira da Silva, Linda J. Beaumont, John Llewelyn, Simon Jones, Alessandro Ossola

Aim:

Generate fire susceptibility maps for the present and 2070, to identify the threat wildfires pose to koalas now and under future climate change.


Location:

Australia.


Time period:

Present and 2070.


Major taxa studied:

60 main tree species browsed by koalas.


Method:

The Decision Tree machine learning algorithm was applied to generate a fire susceptibility index (a measure of the potential for a given area or region to experience wildfires) using a dataset of conditioning factors, namely: altitude, aspect, rainfall, distance from rivers, distance from roads, forest type, geology, koala presence and future dietary sources, land use-land cover (LULC), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), slope, soil, temperature, and wind speed.


Results:

We found a general increase in susceptibility of Australian vegetation to bushfires overall. The simulation for current conditions indicated that 39.56% of total koala habitat has a fire susceptibility rating of “very high” or “high”, increasing to 44.61% by 2070.


Main conclusions:

Wildfires will increasingly impact koala populations in the future. If this iconic and vulnerable marsupial is to be protected, conservation strategies need to be adapted to deal with this threat. It is crucial to strike a balance between ensuring that koala habitats and populations are not completely destroyed by fire while also allowing for forest rejuvenation and regeneration through periodic burns.

Other Information

Published in: Environmental Technology & Innovation
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
See article on publisher's website: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eti.2023.103331

Funding

Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.

History

Language

  • English

Publisher

Elsevier

Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Qatar University
  • College of Arts and Sciences - QU

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