Post-fire management treatment effects on soil properties and burned area restoration in a wildland-urban interface, Haifa Fire case study

Lea Wittenberg, Hilde van der Wal, Saskia Keesstra, Naama Tessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In November 2016, the urban dry streams (wadis) of the city of Haifa in Northern Israel were on fire. However, it was not just the fire that was threatening urban areas. Post-fire precipitation could turn into urban floods, further aggravating the fire damages. Several months after the fire a considerable restoration effort was initiated to restore the burned areas and mitigate future events. For urban forests the rehabilitation strategy was planned and implemented according to the topographic structure of the burned site and anticipated soil erosion. Accordingly, various post-fire management techniques were used: salvage-logging, afforestation, log erosion barriers and coconut fibre-webs. This study aimed to look at the effects of these methods on soil properties, namely, gravimetrical soil moisture, soil organic matter content, pH, electrical conductivity, hydraulic conductivity and soil water repellency. Results indicate that the control (burned, non-managed) site was the highest in soil moisture, organic matter and electrical conductivity compared to all other sites, however, the existence of ash cover made the response to precipitation unpredictable. The hydraulic conductivity (K) of the black ash (24.1 ± 8.6 mm/h), the white ash (19.0 ± 10.7 mm/h) and the disturbed (mixed) ash (11.7 ± 3.7 mm/h) were significantly higher than the underlying soil (3.3 ± 0.7 mm/h). As a result of these differences in K value, precipitation only infiltrates through the ash layers and then flows along the interface of the ash and the soil, triggering soil erosion. Most of the sites that were salvage logged showed signs of erosion. The log barriers were only effective for downstream areas. The afforestation could help to homogenise the soil, but the vegetation cover would be less dense and stable than after natural reforestation. Furthermore, the coconut fibre webs helped to improve the soil water retention and decreased the direct impact of rainfall.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135190
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 10 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Ash
  • Post-fire management
  • Soil
  • Water repellency
  • Wildland-urban interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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