Satnews Daily
December 18th, 2013

GMV... Provides Fuel For ArcFUEL Project (Earth Imaging)

[SatNews] Forest fires obey no borders and it is frequent in summer to see fires spread from one member state to a neighboring one.

The technology business group GMV is taking part in the ArcFUEL project, offering a complete and modern forest-fire mapping methodology in the Mediterranean region of Europe, plus a series of online fuel classification databases based on INSPIRE’s common implementing rules.

ArcFUEL is a LIFE+ project; the LIFE+ program, EU's only financial instrument dedicated exclusively to the environment, is in turn broken down into three priority areas; ArcFUEL comes under nature and biodiversity. The project is being led by EPSILON International SA; apart from GMV, the other participants are outstanding European laboratories and organizations involved in forest-fire research and prevention (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Algosystems SA, ADAI and Epsilon Italia srl).

The ArcFUEL methodology, harnessing remote-sensing and Earth-observation techniques, has proved its mettle in a series of tests in the Mediterranean, the area most heavily affected by forest fires within the European Union.

Forest fires obey no borders and it is frequent in summer to see fires spread from one member state to a neighboring one. Effective management of forest fires calls for fuel mapping, all too often missing in practice. With very few exceptions Europe’s existing forest-fuel maps are local or regional in scope and bear no uniformity from one to another, drawn up on different dates and with different methodologies and approaches. ArcFUEL aims to remedy this shortfall by standardizing mapping procedures and ensuring they are compatible with INSPIRE’s geospatial data schemes.

The composition, structure and state of forest fuel are all crucial factors in determining how a fire develops and spreads. Knowledge of fuel models and their spatial pattern is a vital spoke in the coordination of the best forest-fire management strategy, according to the following four phases of the fire:

  • Prevention and preparation phase (before the fire breaks out): this phase calls for educational and awareness-raising actions, forest-fire risk modelling and measures to increase the resilience both of the public and the environment. Fuel mapping is key to the planning of these measures, including controlled burns.
  • Emergency phase (during the fire): this calls for dependable, real-time information to identify risk priorities and take decisions quickly.
  • Simulation of fire-spread depends entirely on forest fuel mapping.
  • Impact phase (after the fire): Forest fires increase subsequent risk of flooding or runoff, the degree depending on the type of fuel involved.

The FUELMAP project, funded by EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and led by GMV, was a Europe-wide fuel-mapping trailblazer, representing as it did the first approach to a hierarchical forest-fuel classification scheme or framework adapted to European landscapes; this framework is now being used as the basis for ArcFUEL.

ArcFUEL represents a significant contribution to standardization of this type of map-building in Europe, as initiated by FUELMAP, based on operation on a set of geospatial data, and, in the case of ARCFUEL, on the use of easily-accessible earth-observation data.

GMV’s contribution to ArcFUEL includes definition of the workflow and process chain and also implementation of this chain in the two Spanish pilot areas, one of them located in the Biosphere Reserve of Sierra de las Nieves (training area) and the second in the provinces of Malaga and Cordoba (complete working area). To carry out this project GMV is tapping into the spatial data generated by the Environmental Information of Andalusia Network (La Red de Información Ambiental de Andalucía: REDIAM) and by Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment.