LANDFIRE (Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools)

Website

http://www.landfire.gov

Purpose

LANDFIRE is a mapping program with products designed to support strategic vegetation, fire, and fuels management planning across multiple boundaries. Its geospatial products describe potential and existing vegetation, surface and canopy fuel characteristics, and simulated historical fire regimes conditions.

Output

LANDFIRE data products consist of over 50 spatial data layers that can support a range of land management analysis and modeling. Specific data layer products include: Existing Vegetation Type, Canopy, and Height; Biophysical Settings; Environmental Site Potential; Fire Behavior Fuel Models; Fire Regime Classes; and Fire Effects layers.

Developed by

LANDFIRE is a shared effort between the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and The Nature Conservancy.

Format

Interactive online map server (GIS format), displaying 30- meter grid spatial resolution raster data sets. Data can also be downloaded directly from the site.

Geography

National (United States)

Scale (range)

The basis for LANDFIRE products are 30 meter resolution raster data layers. The appropriate scale of application however is much larger than 30 meters (landscape scale), and will vary by a combination of product, location, and specific use.

Status

Peer reviewed, some components still in development

Potential Applications

Evaluating vegetation management alternatives across boundaries at the landscape scale; strategic planning and reporting of wildland fire and natural resource management activities (national and regional level).

Caveats, Restrictions

Although LANDFIRE National products are delivered as 30-meter pixels, they should not be used at the individual pixel level or on small groups of pixels. LANDFIRE products are best used when interpretation or analysis is needed at a landscape scale rather for a particular locality. Users are responsible for making sure that the data are suitable for a particular application.

Overview & Applicability

LANDFIRE (Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools) is a vegetation, fire and fuel characteristics mapping program. LANDFIRE data products consist of over 50 spatial data layers including: Existing Vegetation Type, Canopy, and Height; Biophysical Settings; Environmental Site Potential; Fire Behavior Fuel Models; Fire Regime Classes; and Fire Effects layers. These products are designed to be used at a landscape-scale to support resource management initiatives related to vegetation, fire management planning, stewardship of public and private lands, climate change and carbon sequestration and other topics. They can be used to evaluate management alternatives across boundaries.

LANDFIRE products can describe changes in vegetation conditions across the United States.

The LANDFIRE Team

LANDFIRE was designed to use peer-reviewed, consistent, and repeatable scientific methods. Data products are developed through integrating products and procedures such as relational databases, georeferenced land-based plots and polygons representing field conditions, satellite-enabled remote sensing, systems ecology, gradient analysis, predictive landscape modeling, and vegetation and disturbance dynamics.

History

The LANDFIRE program evolved from increased concern about the number, severity, and size of wildland fires. LANDFIRE started with a prototype in 2002 and was officially chartered in 2004 by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council. Since 2004, an expanded range of land management uses of LANDFIRE data products has surfaced. These new uses include climate change research, carbon sequestration planning, eco-regional assessments, as well as ongoing fire management planning initiatives.

Read more about the project's background here.

Inputs and outputs

Inputs and outputs vary depending on the specific data product. User-collected data is not required for most products. Some general descriptions follow, although more detail can be found on the LANDFIRE Data Products pages.

Vegetation
Products range from maps of existing vegetation types, to maps of dominant vegetation pre Euro-American settlement (biophysical settings), to simple models that can be used to compare historic and current vegetation conditions. LANDFIRE uses vegetation products to create fuel and fire regimes data. Most vegetation products use NatureServe's Ecological Systems classification.

Fuel
Fuel data describe the composition and characteristics of surface and canopy fuel.

Fire
Historical fire regimes, intervals, and vegetation conditions are mapped using the Vegetation Dynamics Development Tool (VDDT).

Disturbance
Disturbance products reflect change on the landscape caused by management activities and natural disturbance, and are created by compiling data from many different sources (Landsat satellite imagery, user-contributed data, Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Condition after Wildfire, Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity, etc.). Products include maps which represent disturbance type, severity, and year.

Topography
Products include basic information on slope, aspect and elevation, compiled from a variety of sources.

While LANDFIRE has developed tools that help managers compare current to reference (aka "historic") conditions, the LANDFIRE team understands that managers also need to look into a future that includes new drivers such as exotic invasives, and climate change.  In addition to providing input data for ecological models, both spatial and aspatial, LANDFIRE products can accommodate climate change information such as:

  1. Changing disturbance probabilities.   For example, Louis Provencher and colleagues in Nevada have modified LANDFIRE reference condition models to represent current ecosystems, then added predicted future changes in fire regimes, potential restoration and other disturbances to explore what their ecosystems may look like, and how to adapt. 
  2. LANDFIRE ecological modeling was done in Vegetation Dynamics Development Tool (VDDT).  VDDT has been updated to a new platform called Path (http://essa.com/tools/path/) that allows for modeling inter-ecosystem shifts (i.e., acres converting to new ecosystems over time).
  3. LANDFIRE's Biophyical Settings Descriptions are being used on the Hiawatha National Forest as a framework for assessing potential climate change impacts.  These descriptions are robust, have associated ecological models (to be manipulated in Path) and are mapped.

Are you using LANDFIRE for climate change planning?  If so, please notify us at landfire@tnc.org.

Restrictions and limitations

LANDFIRE National products are delivered at a 30-meter pixel resolution. The most effective use of the products is at the landscape scale. Thus, applying LANDFIRE data at an individual pixel level or in small groups of pixels is not recommended. LANDFIRE products are not intended to replace local-scale data products. Appropriate landscape-scale analysis may include nationwide, regional (single large states, groups of smaller states), or sub-regional (large landscapes) strategic planning.

Since LANDFIRE represents a wide variety of products with many potential applications, users will need to ensure that the product they are using is appropriate for a particular application.

Accessing the tool and additional information

Information, fact sheets, FAQ's, tutorials and more can all be found through the LANDFIRE website.

Additional information for ArcMAP users
For those familiar with the LANDFIRE data distribution site, an advanced GIS data access tool (the LANDFIRE Data Access Tool) now allows users download LANDFIRE data directly from ArcMap.

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