iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Modeling human-caused forest fire ignition for assessing forest fire danger in Austria

N Arndt (1)   , H Vacik (1), V Koch (2), A Arpaci (1), H Gossow (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 6, Issue 6, Pages 315-325 (2013)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0936-006
Published: Jul 16, 2013 - Copyright © 2013 SISEF

Research Articles

Forest fires have not been considered as a significant threat for mountain forests of the European Alpine Space so far. Climate change and its effects on nature, ecology, forest stand structure and composition, global changes according to demands of society and general trends in the provision of ecosystem services are potentially going to have a significant effect on fire ignition in the future. This makes the prediction of forest fire ignition essential for forest managers in order to establish an effective fire prevention system and to allocate fire fighting resources effectively, especially in alpine landscapes. This paper presents a modelling approach for predicting human-caused forest fire ignition by a range of socio-economic factors associated with an increasing forest fire danger in Austria. The relationship between touristic activities, infrastructure, agriculture and forestry and the spatial occurrence of forest fires have been studied over a 17-year period between 1993 and 2009 by means of logistic regression. 59 independent socio-economic variables have been analysed with different models and validated with heterogeneous subsets of forest fire records. The variables included in the final model indicate that railroad, forest road and hiking trail density together with agricultural and forestry developments may contribute significantly to fire danger. The final model explains 60.5% of the causes of the fire events in the validation set and allows a solid prediction. Maps showing the fire danger classification allow identifying the most vulnerable forest areas in Austria and are used to predict the fire danger classes on municipality level.


Forest Fire, European Alpine Space, Austria, Infrastructure, Socio-economic Factors, Geographic Information System, Logistic Regression

Authors’ address

N Arndt
H Vacik
A Arpaci
Department of Forest and Soil Sciences, Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Peter Jordan Str. 82, A-1190 Vienna (Austria)
V Koch
Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences, Institute of Surveying, Remote Sensing and Land Information, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Peter Jordan Str. 82, A-1190 Vienna (Austria)
H Gossow
Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Peter Jordan Str. 82, A-1190 Vienna (Austria)

Corresponding author


Arndt N, Vacik H, Koch V, Arpaci A, Gossow H (2013). Modeling human-caused forest fire ignition for assessing forest fire danger in Austria. iForest 6: 315-325. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0936-006

Academic Editor

Marco Borghetti

Paper history

Received: Dec 18, 2012
Accepted: Apr 14, 2013

First online: Jul 16, 2013
Publication Date: Dec 02, 2013
Publication Time: 3.10 months

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