The Effect of Forest Fires on Physical Properties and Magnetic Susceptibility of Semi-Arid Soils in North-Eastern, Libya
Forest areas are particularly susceptible to fires, which are often manmade. One of the most fire affected forest regions in the world is the Mediterranean. Libya, in the Mediterranean region, has soils that are considered to be arid except in a small area called Aljabal Alakhdar (Green mountain), which is the geographic area covered by this study. Like other forests in the Mediterranean it has suffered extreme degradation. This is mainly due to people removing fire wood, or sometimes converting forested areas to agricultural use, as well as fires which may alter several soil chemical and physical properties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of fires on the physical properties of soil of Aljabal Alakhdar forest in the north-east of Libya. The physical properties of soil following fire in two geographic areas have been determined, with those subjected to the fire compared to those in adjacent unburned areas in one coastal and one mountain site. Physical properties studied were: soil particle size (soil texture), soil water content, soil porosity and soil particle density. For the first time in Libyan soils, the effect of burning on the magnetic susceptibility properties of soils was also tested. The results showed that the soils in both study sites, irrespective of burning or depth fell into the category of a silt loam texture, low water content, homogeneity of porosity of the soil profiles, relatively high soil particle density values and there is a much greater value of the soil magnetic susceptibility in the top layer from both sites except for the soil water content and magnetic susceptibility, fire has not had a clear effect on the soils’ physical properties.
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