Jeffery KJ, Korte L, Palla F, Walters GM, White L & Abernethy K (2014) Fire management in a changing landscape: a case study from Lopé National Park, Gabon. PARKS. The International Journal of Protected Areas and Conservation, 20 (1), pp. 39-52. https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2014.PARKS-20-1.KJJ.en
A key management goal in Lopé National Park, Gabon, is to protect regionally-rare savannah ecosystems within the continuous rainforest block. In order to evaluate the impact of existing protection efforts, data on burning season environmental conditions, burning effort and current woody values for savannahs were examined between 1995 and 2008. Results showed (a) spatial heterogeneity in woody values to be correlated with grassy vegetation type (b) a negative relationship between woody vegetation and fire return frequency over the study, suggesting that decreased fire return frequency may favour savannah thickening and (c) that inconsistent burn effort by Park staff, and burns designed for reduced heat, may limit the efficiency of fire to prevent savannah thickening or forest expansion. Optimal humidity and fuel moisture conditions for burning are identified and recommendations made for improving the existing fire plan to achieve the management goal. Modifications will require significant investment of resources and training and require urgent experimental work to disentangle the direct impacts of fire from other processes of vegetation change. Lopé's fire policy should ultimately be a dynamic response to change in the local landscape driven by direct fire impacts or by global climate change.
fire management; savannah ecosystems; Lopé National Park; Gabon
PARKS. The International Journal of Protected Areas and Conservation: Volume 20, Issue 1