No evidence of increased fire risk due to agricultural land abandonment in Sardinia (Italy)
Different land cover types are related to different levels of fire hazard through their vegetation structure and fuel load composition. Therefore, understanding the relationships between landscape changes and fire behavior is of crucial importance for developing adequate fire fighting and fire prevention strategies for a changing world. In the last decades the abandonment of agricultural lands and pastoral activities has been the major driver of landscape transformations in Mediterranean Europe. As agricultural land abandonment typically promotes an increase in plant biomass (fuel load), a number of authors argue that vegetation succession in abandoned fields and pastures is expected to increase fire hazard. In this short paper, based on 28 493 fires in Sardinia (Italy) in the period 2001–2010, we show that there is no evidence of increased probability of fire ignition in abandoned rural areas. To the contrary, in Sardinia the decreased human impact associated with agricultural land abandonment leads to a statistically significant decrease of fire ignition probability.