Fire is a natural phenomenon that has played a critical role in transforming the environment and maintaining biodiversity at a global scale. However, the plants in some habitats have not developed strategies for recovery from fire or have not adapted to the changes taking place in their fire regimes. Maps showing ecological vulnerability to fires could contribute to environmental management policies in the face of global change scenarios. The main objective of this study is to assess and map ecological vulnerability to fires on a global scale. To this end, we created ecological value and post-fire regeneration delay indices on the basis of existing global databases. Two ecological value indices were identified: biological distinction and conservation status. For the post-fire regeneration delay index, various factors were taken into account, including the type of fire regime, the increase in the frequency and intensity of forest fires and the potential soil erosion they can cause. These indices were combined by means of a qualitative cross-tabulation to create a new index evaluating ecological vulnerability to fire. The results showed that global ecological value could be reduced by as much as 50 %, due to fire perturbation of ecosystems that are poorly adapted to it. The terrestrial biomes most affected are the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest; tundra; mangroves; tropical and subtropical coniferous forests; and tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests.
Open discussion link: https://nhess.copernicus.org/preprints/nhess-2021-285/