Vegetation burning in tropical countries is a threat to the environment, causing not only local ecological, economic and social impacts, but also large-scale implications for global change. The burning is usually a result of interacting factors, such as climate, land-use and vegetation type. Satellite-derived monthly time series datasets of rainfall, burned area and active fire detections between December 2000 and 2009 were used in this study. A map of vegetation types was also used to determine these factors' spatial and temporal variability and interactions with the total amount of burned area and active fires detected in Colombia. Grasslands represented the vegetation most affected by fires every year in terms of burned area (standardised by their total area), followed by secondary vegetation, pasture and forests. Grasslands were also most affected by active fires, but followed closely by pasture, agricultural areas, secondary vegetation and forests. The results indicated strong climate and fire seasonality and marked regional difference, partly explained by climatic differences amongst regions and vegetation types, especially in the Orinoco and Caribbean regions. The incidence of fire in the Amazon and Andes was less influenced by climate in terms of burned area impacted, but the strength of the ENSO phenomenon affected the Orinoco and the Andes more in terms of burned area. Many of the active fires detected occurred in areas of transition between the submontane and lowland Andes and the Amazon, where extensive conversion to pasture is occurring. The possible high impact of small fires on the tropical rainforest present in this transition area and the Amazonian rainforest deserves more attention in Colombia due to its previous lack of attention to its contribution to global change. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
- Burned area
- Spatio-temporal pattern