Fire Impressions on Mainland South East Asia

Mainland South East Asia between ca. 5° and 20° N is characterized by seasonal climate with a pronounced dry season between November and April. Land-use fires and wildfires are common starting at the end of the year and become more widespread during the peak of the dry season around March-April before the Monsoon rains break.

The fire phenomena are quite similar in the neighbouring countries Myanmar, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, and Viet Nam. Land-use fires and wildfires are common in:

  • Shifting agriculture (slash-and-burn) systems
  • Agricultural maintenance burning (including rice straw and husks)
  • Wildfires in open and mostly degraded deciduous and semi-deciduous forests
  • Wildfires in open fire-climax pine forests

The area annually affected by fire in the countries mentioned is estimated to be >10 million ha (Myanmar: > 6 million ha; Thailand: 1-2 million ha; Viet Nam, Lao and Campuchea: > 1 million ha each country.

For spatio-temporal fire distribution: see “Global Fire Product” and the references given at the end of this photo archive. All photos taken by GFMC. Copyright must be observed strictly!

Viet Nam



Literature on fire in mainland South East Asia

Goldammer, J.G. 1986. Technical and Vocational Forestry and Forest Industries Training, Burma. Forest Fire Management. FAO Rome, 60 p. FO: DP/BUR/81/001, Field Document No. 5.

Goldammer, J.G. 1988. Rural land-use and fires in the tropics. Agroforestry Systems 6, 235-252.

Goldammer, J.G. 1992. Viet Nam – A fire problem analysis. Int. Forest Fire News No.7, 13-16. ECE/FAO Agriculture and Timber Division, Geneva.

Goldammer, J.G. 1993. Feuer in Waldökosystemen der Tropen und Subtropen. Birkhäuser-Verlag, Basel-Boston, 251 p.

Goldammer, J.G. 1997. Overview of fire and smoke management issues and options in tropical vegetation. In: Transboundary Pollution and the Sustainability of Tropical Forests: Towards Wise Forest Fire Management – The Proceedings of the AIFM International Conference (Haron Abu Hassan, Dahlan Taha, Mohd Puat Dahalan, and Amran Mahmud, eds.), 189-217. ASEAN Institute for Forest Management, Ampang Press, Kuala Lumpur, 437 p.

Goldammer, J.G., and S.R.Peñafiel. 1990. Fire in the pine-grassland biomes of tropical and subtropcal Asia. In: Fire in the tropical biota. Ecosystem processes and global challenges (J.G.Goldammer, ed.), 45-62. Ecological Studies 84, Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York, 497 p.

Goldammer, J.G., B.Seibert, and W.Schindele. 1996. Fire in dipterocarp forests. In: Dipterocarp forest ecosystems: Towards sustainable management (A.Schulte and D.Schöne, eds.), 155-185. World Scientific Publ., Singapore-New Jersey-London-Hongkong, 666 p.

Jones, S.H. 1997. Vegetation fire in mainland Southeast Asia: Spatio-temporal analysis of AVHRR 1 km data for 1992/93 dry season. European Commission, Joint Research Center, Space Applications Institute, EUR 17282 EN, 48 p.

Nguyen, B.C., N. Mihalopoulos, and J.-P. Putaud 1994. Rice straw burning in Southeast Asia as a source of CO and COS to the atmosphere. J. Geophys. Res., 99, No. D8: 16,435-16,439.

Stott, P.A. 1986. The spatial pattern of dry season fires in the savanna forests of Thailand. J. Biogeogr. 13, 345-358.

Stott, P.A. 1988 a. Savanna forest and seasonal fire in South East Asia. Plants Today 1, 196-200.

Stott, P.A. 1988 b. The forest as phoenix: towards a biography of fire in mainland South East Asia. Geogr. J. 154, 337-350.

Stott, P.A., J.G.Goldammer, and W.W.Werner. 1990. The role of fire in the tropical lowland deciduous forests of Asia. In: Fire in the tropical biota. Ecosystem processes and global challenges (J.G.Goldammer, ed.), 32-44. Ecological Studies 84, Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York, 497 p.


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