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Forest Fires

Forest Fires

Our research is s aimed at improving the integrated management of forest fires, framed in a sustainable forest management and the global change, generating scientific and technical knowledge on fire prevention, fire behaviour, and post-fire regeneration and restoration.

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

Forest Research Centre

Department of Forest Dynamics and Management.

Forest fires are one of the main threats to Mediterranean forest systems, with a significant impact in Spain.

Although they are a natural phenomenon that has contributed to shaping the current forest landscapes of our country, they also result in significant environmental and economic losses, and even human lives. The current perspectives for global change points to an increase in the intensity and severity of fires.

The research lines developed by our Group aim to provide scientific knowledge to reduce the impact of forest fires. This knowledge is useful for forest managers, especially those involved in firefighting.

To this end, our activities include:

  • Fire prevention, through studies for characterization and treatment of management of forest fuel.
  • Fire suppression, through the study of fire behaviour.
  • Restoration, through studies on the effects of fire and post-fire management.

Lines of work framed in the Sustainable Forest Management and in the current Global Change predictions.


The research carried out by our Group is based on a working approach at different scales. For this, we have experimental devices and infrastructure in laboratory and field plots.

Prevention through forest fuel management

Since its creation, our Group has worked on the characterization of forest fuels at small-scale through laboratory testing. To do this, we have equipment such as the adiabatic bomb calorimeter, the epiradiator and the mass loss calorimeter, and we have developed several methodologies for the study of the flammability of forest species. These methodologies have allowed us to highlight the foreseeable increase in the flammability of plants as a result of biotic and abiotic changes resulting from global change.

In recent years, we have also worked on the characterization of forest fuel on a larger scale, using the "ForeStereo" equipment, a forest measurement system based on the capture of stereoscopic hemispheric images, developed by our colleagues in the CIFOR Inventory, Sustainable Management and Global Change Group.

The use of fire in fire prevention by carrying out prescribed fires is increasingly being implemented in our country. The results obtained by our Group show that, carried out under appropriate conditions, the prescribed burns are an effective and safe tool for reducing fuel and, consequently, the risk of fire in pine forests.

Predicting fire behaviour to improve extinction

Our Group has an open-air wind tunnel that allows testing on a fuel complex scale. Using this device, we have obtained models of prediction of the risk of fire initiation in different types of fuel, and of transition from surface fire to crown fire.

Know the effects of fire and fire management for a more efficient restoration

In recent years, we have developed methodologies to predict the effects of fire on tree trunks.

  • On the one hand, we have developed a new laboratory methodology to understand the vulnerability to fire of the barks of forest species adapted to fires. The tests carried out with this methodology have confirmed the protective character of the bark against thermal damage.

Additional field experiments have demonstrated the importance of fuel management under tree canopy to reduce tree vulnerability.

  • Likewise, our Group has developed a Utility Model (ES1224321), in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Madrid, to evaluate in the field the survival of living tissues under the bark of trees. This instrument allows an early diagnosis of the death of living tissues under the bark in trees affected by fire, both in fires and in prescribed burns.

We are also working on knowing the effects of the prescribed burns on litterfall, growth of trees, resin yield and populations of beetles. The information obtained allows obtaining a broad view of the effects of the use of fire as a preventive tool, qualifying its effectiveness and conditions of use.

Through field inventories during the last 15 years, we have studied the natural post-fire regeneration in pine forests of Pinus pinaster. The results obtained in the area of the Riba de Saelices fire (Guadalajara, 2005) make it possible to propose forest management strategies to help restore the landscape and reduce its vulnerability to future fires.

Services to companies

In addition to the research work described above, the Forest Fire Laboratory of CIFOR-INIA provides services through:

  • Conducting tests to determine the effectiveness of chemical products used in fire suppression.
  • Conducting ad hoc wind tunnel tests, for example on the effectiveness of self-protection systems.


Forest Fires Members

Coordinador de Grupo

  • Javier Madrigal
    Sistema y procedimiento de medida de la tasa máxima de calor emitida por un frente dinámico de fuego.
    Patente | P201030752

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