The lack of information on vegetation dryness prior to the use of fire as a management tool often leads to a significant deterioration of the savanna ecosystem. This paper therefore evaluated the capacity of SPOT VEGETATION time-series to monitor the vegetation dryness (i.e., vegetation moisture content per vegetation amount) in order to optimize fire risk assessment in the savanna ecosystem of Kruger National Park in South Africa. The integrated Relative Vegetation Index approach (iRVI) to quantify the amount of herbaceous biomass at the end of the rain season and the Accumulated Relative Normalized Difference vegetation index decrement (ARND) related to vegetation moisture content were selected. The iRVI and ARND related to vegetation amount and moisture content, respectively, were combined in order to monitor vegetation dryness and optimize fire risk assessment in the savanna ecosystems. In situ fire activity data was used to evaluate the significance of the iRVI and ARND to monitor vegetation dryness for fire risk assessment. Results from the binary logistic regression analysis confirmed that the assessment of fire risk was optimized by integration of both the vegetation quantity (iRVI) and vegetation moisture content (ARND) as statistically significant explanatory variables. Consequently, the integrated use of both iRVI and ARND to monitor vegetation dryness provides a more suitable tool for fire management and suppression compared to other traditional satellite-based fire risk assessment methods, only related to vegetation moisture content.
Large-scale wild fires have direct impacts on natural ecosystems and play a major role in the vegetation ecology and carbon budget. Accurate methods for describing post-fire development of vegetation are therefore essential for the understanding and monitoring of terrestrial ecosystems. Time series analysis of satellite imagery offers the potential to quantify these parameters with spatial and temporal accuracy. Current research focuses on the potential of time series analysis of SPOT Vegetation S10 data (1999-2001) to quantify the vegetation recovery of large-scale burns detected in the framework of GBA2000. The objective of this study was to provide quantitative estimates of the spatio-temporal variation of vegetation recovery based on remote sensing indicators. Southern Africa was used as a pilot study area, given the availability of ground and satellite data. An automated technique was developed to extract consistent indicators of vegetation recovery from the SPOT-VGT time series. Reference areas were used to quantify the vegetation regrowth by means of Regeneration Indices (RI). Two kinds of recovery indicators (time and value- based) were tested for RI's of NDVI, SR, SAVI, NDWI, and pure band information. The effects of vegetation structure and temporal fire regime features on the recovery indicators were subsequently analyzed. Statistical analyses were conducted to assess whether the recovery indicators were different for different vegetation types and dependent on timing of the burning season. Results highlighted the importance of appropriate reference areas and the importance of correct normalization of the SPOT-VGT data.