Tree-ring: a suitable implement for spatial and temporal fire distribution analysis in savanna woodland and dry forest

Research paper by Franck Sinsin, Romain Glèlè Kakaï, Bettina Orthmann, Brice Sinsin

Indexed on: 25 Apr '15Published on: 25 Apr '15Published in: Journal of Forestry Research


Based on 120 stem discs collected during 3 months of fieldwork along a 12 km route, the history of fires in the Wari Maro Forest (09°10′0 N–02°10′0E) over the past century in savanna woodland and dry forest was reconstituted. Three major ecological areas are characterized: one highly burnt zone located between two relative less burnt areas. By analyzing tree rings, 246 fire scars were identified. The scars were caused by 51 fire years, occurring at a mean interval of 2.23 years. From 1890 to 1965, only 6 years with fires were recorded from sampled trees. Since 1966, no year has passed without fire. The fire frequency point scale reached 14 years. This was the case of Burkea africana, which has been identified as a species tolerant to fire and could be planted to create a natural firewall. In contrast, Anogeissus leiocarpa is highly sensitive to fire, and in a dry forest ecosystem that burns seasonally, it requires a special conservation plan. Two new concepts are described: the rebarking of trees after fire and Mean Kilometer Fire Interval. The first concept was tested with Daniellia oliveri (Rolfe) Hutch & Dalz trees, and the second concept was used to evaluate spatial fire distribution. We demonstrate that savanna woodland and dry forest were subject to a degradation process caused by destructive fires related to vegetation cover clearance and illegal logging.