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Title: Combining community observations and remote sensing to examine the effects of roads on wildfires in the East Siberian boreal forest
The paper is aimed at assessing the associations between the road networks geography and dynamics of wildfire events in the East Siberian boreal forest. We examined the relationship between the function of roads, their use, and management and the wildfire ignition, propagation, and termination during the catastrophic fire season of 2016 in the Irkutsk Region of Russia. Document analysis and interviews were utilized to identify main forest users and road infrastructure functional types and examine wildfire management practices. We combined community observations and satellite remotely sensed data to assess relationships between the location, extent, and timing of wildfires and different types of roads as fire sources, barriers, and suppression access points. Our study confirms a strong spatial relationship between the wildfire ignition points and roads differentiated by their types with the highest probability of fire ignition near forestry roads and the lowest near subsistence roads. Roads also play an important role in wildfire suppression, working as both physical barriers and access points for firefighters. Our research illustrates the importance of local and Indigenous observations along the roads for monitoring and understanding wildfires, including “zombie fires”. It also has practical implications for fire management collectively developed by authorities and local communities.
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Arctic Science
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National Science Foundation
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