Airbus Defence and Space

Mapping the burned areas to help heal the scars and prevent future fires

After the initial emergency has been dealt with – in other words putting out the fire, there comes the damage assessment phase, as is the case here in Corsica. For a number of years, satellite imagery has offered environmental protection teams new tools to help manage the post-disaster phase.

Since 2006, Infoterra has been providing a service mapping the burned areas, using satellite images. Initially a part of the Risk-EOS project (GMES project financed by ESA),, it is now operational and available to subscribers. Its clients include the DDAF (regional directorate for agriculture and forests) of the Haute-Corse region of Corsica.

The service has changed in recent years. Originally, at the end of the fire season, in other words in early October, it consisted in delivering an exhaustive map of all fires of more than 5 hectares in the département.

Even if the users were satisfied with the service, they did however feel that it could be improved. The maps of the burned areas thus became reactive…

Now, each time there is a fire covering more than 5 hectares, the users notify Infoterra. Infoterra then triggers an emergency image acquisition schedule with Spotimage, a company specialising in satellite imaging.

The perimeter and scope of the fire are delivered within the next three days. The way this perimeter is extracted is to compare a picture of the area taken before the fire, with one taken after. The comparisons are made using the Overland software, which gives us valuable information on biophysical parameters (water, soil, vegetation). The local environment managers can thus identify the biodiversity status and determine which species need to be replanted. Similarly, in subsequent years, these satellite data will be of great help in preventively pre-positioning the response forces in vulnerable areas which are liable to burn very quickly.

Geoinformation Services