Takahata, C, Amin, R, Sarma, P, Banerjee, G, Oliver, W, Fa, JE (2010). "Remotely-Sensed Active Fire Data for Protected Area Management: Eight-Year Patterns in the Manas National Park, India". ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 45(2), 414-423.
The Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands, which once extended along most of the Himalayan foothills, now only remain in a number of protected areas. Within these localities, grassland burning is a major issue, but data on frequency and distribution of fires are limited. Here, we analysed the incidence of active fires, which only occur during the dry season (Nov.-Mar.), within a significant area of Terai grasslands: the Manas National Park (MNP), India. We obtained locations of 781 fires during the 2000-2008 dry seasons, from the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) that delivers global MODIS hotspot/fire locations using remote sensing and GIS technologies. Annual number of fires rose significantly from around 20 at the start of the study period to over 90 after 2002, with most (85%) detected between December and January. Over half of the fires occurred in tall grasslands, but fire density was highest in wetland and riverine vegetation, dry at the time. Most burning took place near rivers, roads and the park boundary, suggesting anthropogenic origins. A kernel density map of all recorded fires indicated three heavily burnt areas in the MNP, all within the tall grasslands. Our study demonstrates, despite some technical caveats linked to fire detection technology, which is improving, that remote fire data can be a practical tool in understanding fire concentration and burning temporal patterns in highly vulnerable habitats, useful in guiding management.