LUCIFER attempts to : a) Determine how the structure of the landscape has changed in the last 2-4 decades in fire-prone areas of all the Mediterranean countries of the EU, how fires themselves have contributed to such change, and what role have landscape changes played in promoting fire; b) Assess whether fires induce a further homogenization of the burned area, hence increasing fire risk; c) Evaluate the relationship between the patch heterogeneity created by the fire and the postfire flows of soil, water and nutrients from the burned area; d) Establish the role of burned area (a fire or patches differing in burning severity) on the postfire species dynamics, assess the basis for species change between burns, in particular for rare/endemic species, as wall as the potential colonization of burned areas by new species; e) based on past landscapes and fire incidence, develop models of landscape change and its significance for species dynamics in order to evaluate fire risk and other threats to the ecosystem in fire-prone areas resulting from landscape changes.
The Mediterranean landscapes have been considered as a model of fine-grain, most diverse natural and cultural landscape caused by the ancestral human use of the land. However, in the last decades, improved socio-economic conditions in EU-countries have altered land-uses, eventually conducing to a simplification of landscape features. Parallel to this, fire occurrence has increased manifold. Fires dominate now in many areas in an unprecented way, and may be altering the ecosystems in unknown ways. How the changes in the landscape have affected fire occurrence is little known. Similarly, little is also known about the impacts on key processes for soil and species maintenance produced by the changes in the landscape caused by fire. Understanding these interactions is needed to properly manage these areas. Additionally, this knowledge could also serve as a model for understanding potential impacts of land-use change in other fire-prone areas of the world.
To achieve the project objectives landscapes will be reconstructed in areas of all EU countries importantly affected by fire. Additionally, fires will be mapped and their occurrence evaluated in relation to conditions and landscape structure. Similarly, fire risk will be evaluated in the reconstructed landscapes by using fire behaviour models and other fire risk methods. Furthermore, the role of fire in modifying the landscape, either in prefire homogeneous areas or in areas differing in their recent land-use history, will be investigated also in areas across the southern EU countries by means of field monitoring of the vegetation complemented with remotely sensed data. The role of spatial patterns produced by fire, either by the burned area or by patches of fire severity will be objective of particular attention. Postfire flows of soil, water and nutrients will be related to such spatial changes in one pilot area. Additionally, how burned areas or patches within burned areas affect species (plant and some animal groups) maintenance in the system, with particular attention to rare and endemic species or to species with an invading potential, will also be investigated. Monitoring of species dynamics within burned patches or fires will be conducted also in areas of the East and West Mediterranean. Case studies for both, invaders and rare/endemic species, will be made. Finally, knowledge gained will be integrated through modelling to evaluate future landscapes and their potential effect on fire occurrence and for species maintenance in fire prone areas.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
80055 Portici Napoli