Evaluating Post-Fire Forest Resilience Using GIS and Multi-Criteria Analysis: An Example from Cape Sounion National Park, Greece

Environmental Management, 2011, Volume 47, Number 3, Pages 384-397

Margarita Arianoutsou, Sotirios Koukoulas and Dimitrios Kazanis

“Forest fires are one of the major causes of ecological disturbance in the mediterranean climate ecosystems of the world. Despite the fact that a lot of resources have been invested in fire prevention and suppression, the number of fires occurring in the Mediterranean Basin in the recent decades has continued to markedly increase. The understanding of the relationship between landscape and fire lies, among others, in the identification of the system’s post-fire resilience. In our study, ecological and landscape data are integrated with decision-support techniques in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) framework to evaluate the risk of losing post-fire resilience in Pinus halepensis forests, using Cape Sounion National Park, Central Greece, as a pilot case. The multi-criteria decision support approach has been used to synthesize both bio-indicators (woody cover, pine density, legume cover and relative species richness and annual colonizers) and geo-indicators (fire history, parent material, and slope inclination) in order to rank the landscape components. Judgments related to the significance of each factor were incorporated within the weights coefficients and then integrated into the multicriteria rule to map the risk index. Sensitivity analysis was very critical for assessing the contribution of each factor and the sensitivity to subjective weight judgments to the final output. The results of this study include a final ranking map of the risk of losing resilience, which is very useful in identifying the “risk hotspots”, where post-fire management measures should be applied in priority.”