The Niassa National Reserve (NNR) is the largest conservation area of the Miombo woodlands in southern Africa, representing one of the most remote and pristine biodiversity spots. Anthropogenic fires have long been one of the main ecological drivers in these woodlands. However, the constraint in understanding fire effects results from limited data and accessibility to existing fire records. This study is intended to contribute to the understanding of fire ecology in these woodlands by assessing the fire regime in NNR. We used the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) daily active fire (MDC14ML) and burned-area (MCD45A1) products to characterise the fire regime in terms of seasonality, intensity, density, burned area, frequency and mean return interval for the period from 2000 to 2012. The results indicated that fire activity starts c. April and peaks in the late dry season (August–October). Approximately 45% of the area burns every year, especially the north-central and eastern sectors, with fire intensity displaying an inverse relationship with frequency. In conclusion, our study demonstrates the relevance of remote sensing for describing the spatial and temporal patterns of fire occurrence in the Miombo eco-region and highlights the necessity for controlling fire and managing fuels in this important conservation area.
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RUFORUM Journal Articles